After an almost 2 1/2 year delay, Arkansas medical cannabis patients will finally be able to purchase their medicine. The first harvest is being processed as I write this article. For those patients anxiously awaiting the roll out of the program, I hope this information is helpful. Here is a round-up of Arkansas medical cannabis news.
First 2 Arkansas Dispensaries Slated To Open by May 12, 2019
At least two Hot Springs area dispensaries are expecting to open their doors by May 12. The first harvest of Arkansas cannabis plants is in the process of being dried, cured, trimmed and packaged. Samples will be sent for testing per the regulations of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program. Only flower and pen cartridges filled with distillate for smoking will be available for purchase. The expectation is that another three dispensaries will have passed their inspections soon after that date and will be ready to open. A total of 32 dispensaries have been approved for licenses in the 8 zoned dispensary areas in Arkansas.
Arkansas Health Department (AHD) Will Reissue Medical Cannabis Cards
The Arkansas Department of Health will automatically reissue new year-long medical cannabis cards to the more than 10,500 Arkansas patients and caregivers who received them during the 3 months prior to the roll out of the program. Many patients were concerned that their cards would only be good for 12 months from the time of issuance which would penalize those who received them in February through April. There is an annual renewal fee of $50. For some patients, all the fees involved in applying to the program are a financial hardship. The new cards, which are cost-free, will be sent out when the first dispensary opens its doors.
The First Arkansas Medical Cannabis Cultivator, BOLD Team
Five medical cannabis cultivators were awarded licenses in Arkansas. Only one cultivator, BOLD Team, in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), was approved to grow product for the opening of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program. Two other cultivators, Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville (Carroll County) and Natural State Medicinals in White Hall (Jefferson County), were approved by inspectors in March to begin their operations. There is no information available on a due date for their harvests. Two other cultivators have yet to be approved.
The $6 million BOLD Team 45,000 square feet grow facility is not only supplying medical cannabis to the first Arkansas dispensaries, it is revitalizing the town of Cotton Plant, Arkansas. Applicants who promised to house their grow facility in economically depressed areas improved their chances of winning a license in the state's selection process. With a population of 653 residents, the grow facility has breathed new life into a desperate town with empty storefronts and buildings in disrepair. The only high school closed in 2004. There was no bank, no grocery store and no gas station. 73% of the residents are black and 30% of them live below the poverty level. The mayor at the time, Willard Ryland, thought the proposal was a joke at first. Once he understood all the benefits of bringing medical cannabis to Cotton Plant, he was all in.
BOLD is an acronym of the names of the 5 owners; one of whom had a grandfather who lived in Cotton Plant. They currently employ 14 people but expect to hire several more to process the plants and package the finished product. BOLD Team will pay the city $1,500/month to lease the 8.5 acre site. They plan to give back to the community by donating 1% of their gross profits every year.
The growing process, from clone to harvest, takes 16 weeks. The flowering rooms contain 16 tables with 41 plants on each one. Their plan is to harvest 656 plants per week. This number is calculated based on how much room between plants is necessary for optimum growth. There are 24 different strains. All the plants are female; no male plants are allowed. The BOLD Team expects to produce about 200 lbs per week of medical cannabis from this first harvest.
After the plants are harvested, they are dried or turned into oil. Samples are sent to the lab to be tested per the statutes of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program. The percentages of THC and CBD in the samples are measured. Those plants that don’t make the grade are discarded; they are weighed, ground up and mixed with dirt or grass clippings. The oil products are processed in tanks by reducing the flower via butane and propane. 20 pounds of flower reduces down to 3 pounds of oil.
Registered patients should be aware that there may very well be a shortage of product within 2 weeks of the start of the program. If all 10,000 patients purchase their maximum allotment of 2.5 oz, the supply of product on the shelves will be depleted. It is impossible to tell how many patients will make the trip to the Hot Springs area or how much product they will purchase.
Bloom Medicinals Texarkansas
Bloom Medicinals has purchased Vincent’s Fine Wine and Liquor at 410 Realtor Ave, Texarkansas, as the site for our medical cannabis dispensary. Construction is already under way. We expect to open our doors in the summer of 2019. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to our opening.
Source: arkansasonline.com, Harvest Days Off For State’s Initial Medical Marijuana, Hunter Field, April 18, 2019
5newsonline.com, Arkansas Health Department To Reissue Medical Marijuana Cards, Associated Press, April 24, 2019
Arktimes.com, BOLD Team Will Harvest First Medical Marijuana in Arkansas, Leslie Newell Peacock, April 1, 2019
Texarkanagazette.com. Two Marijuana Dispensaries Slated