Nine months after Arkansas’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened for business, the first facility in Little Rock has been approved to begin operations.
Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said Tuesday that Alcoholic Beverage Control Division agents recently conducted a final inspection of Harvest House of Cannabis at 900 S. Rodney Parham Road. That included making sure a computer tracking system that links with the state to monitor each transaction was operational, and that safety measures like security cameras are in place at the dispensary.
"It is now approved to open as soon as it pleases," Hardin said. "If owners want to open tomorrow morning, they can certainly do that."
It’s unclear when the facility, formerly known as Natural State Wellness, will open its doors for customers. It becomes the first dispensary to be licensed in Pulaski County. Two more facilities in the county – another in Little Rock and one in Sherwood – will likely get final inspections in the coming days, Hardin said, and could end up opening during the same time frame.
33 dispensaries are currently licensed in the state, he said, with 17 in operation. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 to allow residents with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana.
Why did it take so long for the state’s largest city to get a licensed facility?
"It really is a good question and one that really baffled quite a few people, not just in Little Rock, but around the state," Hardin said. "When this amendment was passed, it really gave all of the discretion to the owners on the timing in which these things are opened. It didn’t require a date and say, you must be opened by this date."
Hardin says it’s expected that this week overall sales of medical marijuana in the state will surpass $40 million, with 6,000 pounds being sold. A detailed report is expected to be released by the Department of Finance and Administration on Friday.