Arkansans have spent $25.7 million for medical marijuana since the state’s first dispensary opened its doors in May, the Department of Finance and Administration reported Tuesday. The sales figure was released on the eve of the expected opening of the state’s 14th dispensary on Wednesday.
"We are really experiencing a busy December," said department spokesman Scott Hardin.
On Dec. 9, NEA Full Spectrum opened in Brookland, near Jonesboro in Craighead County, becoming the state’s 12th dispensary. 420 Dispensary in Russellville said in a press release that it served its first patient Tuesday, becoming the 13th dispensary.
"We are honored to have received final approval to open our doors to patients in our community," 420 Dispensary owner Adam Harrison said in a statement. "We will begin regular operations and begin to fulfill our mission to legally provide high quality medical marijuana to ailing Arkansans in need."
The company said the opening had been delayed because of record flooding earlier this year along the Arkansas River. Hardin says other entities that have been granted dispensary licenses by the state are citing various problems which have delayed their openings.
32 licenses have been issued and must be renewed annually. If any of those dispensaries are not in operation by next June, Hardin says those licenses could be revoked.
"You’re going to see the Medical Marijuana Commission asking some tough questions," Hardin said. "When are you going to be up and running?"
Fort Cannabis in Fort Smith has indicated to the state that it will open on Wednesday, Hardin said, becoming the 14th dispensary. Bloom Medicinals in Texarkana was recently given its final approval by ABC inspectors, but he said it’s unclear when it will open.
3,812 pounds of marijuana has been sold so far this year, which Hardin expects will top 4,000 by the end of the month.
Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 allowing people with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana, though implementation of the program by the state took longer than expected.