Medical marijuana is rapidly bringing jobs and commerce to the state of Arkansas, as a growing industry is flourishing there after provisioning centers were opened in May after voters approved the measure on the ballot in 2016.
Eight medical marijuana dispensaries began selling medical marijuana in May, and have already sold a total of 1,000 pounds of pot in just four months of being operational. A ninth dispensary may be opened in the upcoming weeks to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. The cumulative sales from the various dispensaries have reached $7.14 million.
Three of five state-licensed cultivators are already up and running, and Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin believes the other two will be operational by the end of 2019. They will be necessary to fulfill the growing demand.
“We likely will inspect those over the next month or two. We do expect both of those will be growing by the end of the year, so we think the inspection, probably the first will take place over the next month and then by the end of the year, we’ll have all five growing,” Hardin said.
Currently, there are two dispensaries operational in Hot Springs, two more providing medicine in Bentonville, with the towns of Clinton, Hensley, Helena-West Helena, and Mountain View each having one dispensary open in their city limits.
In a strange turn of events, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division may issue sanctions against licensed dispensary owners if they are not operational by the end of the year. In what would be a complete reversal of reality, the state may be punishing people for not providing marijuana to the marketplace.
“While the rules do not specify a date by which dispensaries must be operational, there is an expectation that the permit holder will serve patients within a reasonable time frame,” Hardin said.
“We understand construction does take time with outside factors such as weather playing a role. However, there will be a point at which ABC will take action if a dispensary is not open for business. Late January 2020 will mark one year since the dispensaries were licensed. By that time, if a dispensary is not operational, ABC is prepared to take action,” he added.
“That could range from a fine and probation to license revocation, but at least that conversation is taking place,” Hardin said.
Medical marijuana was passed by a majority of voters in a 2016 ballot initiative by a 53.1 to 46.9 percent margin. The approved measure permitted patients with many different ailments including cancer, AIDS, HIV, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, cachexia, epilepsy, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder to have access to cannabis to relieve their suffering.
Even solidly red states like Arkansas have seen the light on cannabis these days, as the federal drug war propaganda is being rejected throughout the country. It is only a matter of time before marijuana prohibition is relegated to the ash heap of history, remembered as one of the biggest policy failures in American history.