The five members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to accept an outside consulting group's scores for marijuana dispensary applications.
With two new commissioners present, the commission effectively ended two years of regulatory setbacks that waylaid the implementation of the state's medical marijuana amendment, which Arkansas voters approved in Nov. 2016.
With cultivation licenses already awarded, officials say medical cannabis will likely be available for purchase by the state's nearly 7,000 approved patients by April of 2019.
"Monday at the latest, that [letter of intent] will go to those 32 companies that scored among the highest in each zone," Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said. "They then have seven days to pay a $15,000 licensing fee, post a $100,000 performance bond, and then once we confirm that they still have that storefront... they'll likely be licensed within the next couple of weeks."
The 2016 marijuana amendment allows for a total of eight cultivation facilities and 40 dispensaries in the state if demand for the drug rises. For now, the state will have an inaugural class of five cultivators and 32 dispensaries.
Next on the agenda for the Medical Marijuana Commission is to discuss regulations for transporting marijuana from cultivators to dispensaries. The commission is expected to take up that topic at its next meeting on Feb. 13.