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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The big business of medical marijuana in Arkansas is set to take off in the not-too-distant future.

“It’s an up and coming industry,” said Travis Story with the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

“We’ll be studying this in economics for years,” said Gregory Duran, the President of the Cannabis Patients Alliance.

It’s been a year since Arkansas voters gave the thumbs up to prescription pot. Still in its infancy, the industry’s impact on the Natural State’s bottom line has yet to be felt.

“Every day in the Cannabis business is kind of a question mark,” said Adam Grimmett, the Vice-President of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association.

So what can we forecast for when the buds start blooming?

“We don’t have statistics to bare, but we can go off other states with similar population and demographic count,” said Brian Faught, who is applying for a cultivation and dispensary license.

Those with their hands in the pot look to the 28 other states and Washington D.C., which have also legalized medical cannabis.

Among those states, Nevada is similar to Arkansas in both size and population, so it offers a comparable snapshot of economic impact.

Based on what the Silver State pulls in each year, the Department of Finance and Administration expects Arkansas to have sales that exceed $38 million dollars annually.

“The money is there,” Duran said.

So far, 95 cultivation and 228 dispensary applications have been submitted to the eight zones in the state. But only five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensary owners will be chosen to cash in on the crop.

“I was interested in the business opportunity first, I am a businessman first,” Faught said.

Faught hopes to blaze a trail in Arkansas. He’s put in an application to run a cultivation facility and a dispensary.

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It’s been just over a year now since Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana in the state, but we have yet to see the plant available to patients.

Many patients have argued the process is taking a long time. But if you ask those who are working to implement medical marijuana in the state, there is a lot that goes into it and they think by this time next year, you’ll see dispensaries opening.

Since voters legalized the plant, we’ve seen the formation of the medical marijuana commission, new rules and regulations and a competitive business forming.

“It has been a very, very busy process,” said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission.

Nearly 100 applicants are fighting for five licenses to grow the drug and more than 200 are competing to be one of the 32 distributors.

“We are still working to get those applications prepped and ready for commissioners,” said Hardin.

Right now legal teams are depersonalizing the cultivation applications.

“It basically means we go in and remove the names from each application,” Hardin said.

The goal is to have them ready for the commission to begin scoring them by Dec. 15. They hope to issue licenses early next year.

“Could be January, could be March, we’ve not been able to pin that date down at this point,” said Hardin.

Then, cultivators will need time to build and grow their plants. Growing marijuana can take three to four months. With this timeline, marijuana may be ready for patients by the middle or end of next year.
The applications are hundreds or thousands of pages each which is why the prepping them for grading is taking months. Right now the focus is on cultivation facilities. Applications for dispensaries have yet to be looked over.

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