The medical marijuana industry continues to grow as dispensaries expand in Northwest Arkansas.
The ReLeaf Center in Bentonville has sold more medical marijuana than any other in the state and is approved to start growing the drug, according to Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The agency oversees medical marijuana operations in the state.
The ReLeaf dispensary sold about 3,993 pounds of marijuana as of Tuesday since opening in August 2019, according to Hardin. The dispensary surpassed Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs for most sales. Green Springs was the first dispensary in the state when it opened in May 2019 and has since sold about 3,622 pounds of marijuana.
Matt Shansky of ReLeaf said a greenhouse is being built outside next to the dispensary, and he anticipates it being fully operational by spring. ReLeaf will continue to buy marijuana from cultivators in the state because dispensaries that grow on site are limited to 50 mature plants.
ReLeaf is one of four dispensaries in Northwest Arkansas. The Source in Bentonville, Purspirit in Fayetteville and Acanza in Fayetteville are the others.
A fifth dispensary, Natural Root Wellness, has obtained a license to operate in south Fayetteville. A representative of the dispensary didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“We haven’t received any official updates although we understand the dispensary continues to make progress,” Hardin said. “When the dispensary is ready to open for business, an inspection will be requested by ownership.”
Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement agents will inspect the facility to ensure all required security measures are in place, including making sure the dispensary’s sales software links to the state’s system.
Acanza recently became the first dispensary in the region to begin growing on site.
“We are cultivating and processing and expect to have our gummies available very soon,” said Randi Hernandez of the business.
Medical marijuana can be processed into several forms such as traditional flower, oils or edibles.
Erik Danielson of The Source said he is in the process of obtaining a building permit to build a new dispensary and grow site off West Poplar Street in Rogers.
“We’re ready to go. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Danielson said.
The building will be two stories and approximately 20,000 square feet, Danielson said. The business will move all of its operations to the new building. The Source has 26 employees and will add an undetermined number of new staff members when it expands.
Arkansas’ 32 dispensaries had sold a total of 36,656 pounds, or $242 million worth, of medical marijuana as of Tuesday. Residents must have medical marijuana cards, which must be renewed annually, to legally purchase medical marijuana. The state had more than 66,630 active cards as of Tuesday. Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties had a total of 17,852 residents with cards as of October.
Medical marijuana has a 10.5% state sales tax rate, which means sales have generated approximately $25 million in tax revenue. The sales tax includes the regular 6.5% state sales tax rate and 4% privilege tax established by the Arkansas General Assembly. Revenue from the 6.5% goes to state agencies, including those that oversee the medical marijuana program. Revenue from the 4% privilege tax goes to the University of Arkansas, specifically for the establishment of a National Cancer Institute.
Acanza sold 2,577 pounds since opening in September 2019. The Source sold 2,310 pounds of marijuana since opening in August 2019. Purspirit sold 1,892 pounds since opening in November 2019. Sales figures are not public information because of the Tax Procedure Act, according to Hardin.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
Medical marijuana card
To qualify for a registry card to legally purchase medical marijuana, one must:
• Be 18 or older or be a minor patient with parental consent
• Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
• Have the official written certification from a physician
• Be an Arkansas resident with proof of residency. State law prohibits members of the Arkansas National Guard and U.S. military from obtaining a registry ID card.
Qualifying medical conditions:
• Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome
• Hepatitis C
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS
• Tourette’s syndrome
• Crohn’s disease
• Ulcerative colitis
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Severe arthritis
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Cachexia or wasting syndrome
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Intractable pain, which is pain not responding to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six months
• Severe nausea
• Seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
• Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
• And, any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health
Sources: Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration