Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, which oversees medical marijuana sales and cultivation in the state, is finalizing approval for a third dispensary to open its doors. Arkansas Natural Products, located in Clinton, was inspected by ABC agents earlier this week. Spokesman Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, which includes ABC, said in an interview with KUAR News that it was a positive visit and the dispensary is expected to open next week.
"Now it’s just a matter of ABC administration and leadership signing off and saying everything is in place. As soon as that letter is sent," Hardin said, "they can then open their doors."
It would be the first dispensary outside of Hot Springs, where the state's first and second dispensaries are now in operation. With the opening of the third dispensary, Hardin expects medical marijuana sales to continue rising.
"We really think this thing is going to start moving as we enter mid-to-late June and early July,” said Hardin.
Medical marijuana sales have looked promising to officials at the ABC since the first two dispensaries opened their doors last month. The dispensaries have sold almost 130 pounds of marijuana so far, Hardin says, amounting to over $800,000 in sales.
"In talking to other states and looking at states that have launched with well over two dispensaries – some as many as 10 – the sales numbers here are really, really strong. I think [they] exceeded expectations to say the least," Hardin said. He added that marijuana cultivation was keeping up well with demand from the dispensaries, which had been a point of concern as the first dispensaries prepared to open.
"This has been a long time coming, and with the frustration and the build up toward it, we knew that there would be a lot of interest going into it," said Hardin. "Now we have two of the five cultivators that are not only growing, but actually providing product to dispensaries. I think you’ll see a third, Osage Creek [Cultivation Center], added to that here fairly soon. They’re growing, but haven’t harvested yet."
One new form of medical marijuana that is expected to be availabe soon, Hardin says, is edibles that can be eaten. So far only the kind that can be smoked or vaporized has been for sale to qualified patients.