Arkansas Marijuana News

An avalanche of applications to grow or sell medical marijuana in Arkansas, and the tedious work of preparing them for final review, mean a final decision of who receives one of the state’s coveted pot business licenses won’t be made until well into next year, officials said Monday.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, which met for the first time Monday since the Sept. 18 deadline to apply for a cultivator or dispensary license, set Dec. 15 as the date when it will start receiving applications for review, with names and other identifying information redacted to assure unbiased decisions.

But even that deadline may have to be pushed back, the commissioners conceded, and hundreds of applications will still come in on a rolling basis afterward, possibly for months.

For Arkansans who voted last November to legalize medical marijuana, there was no good approximation Monday as to when it could be available on dispensary shelves, said Department of Finance and Administration attorney Joel DiPippa, who advises the five-member commission.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Click here for a look at how laws related to marijuana have evolved over the past two decades.]

In a positive sign for patients with qualifying conditions, however, the state finance department announced Monday that at least four dispensary applications had been submitted in each of the eight regions of the state that the commission had previously agreed on in order to spread the shops out.

Indeed, each region received four times the number of applications for a dispensary as the commission will ultimately award.

The southwest corner of the state received the fewest number of dispensary applications, 16, while the northeast corner received the highest, 44.

Pulaski County, the state’s most populous county, received the most dispensary applications for any single county, 26.

In total, the state received 227 applications

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Melissa Etheridge says she feels like a “rock star now” that she’s been arrested for marijuana possession. “I’m in good company,” the singer tells Variety, referring to others like Paul McCartney, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson who’ve been busted for pot over the years.

Etheridge was sleeping on her tour bus when it was pulled over by Customs and Border Protection agents in the middle of the night on Aug. 17 in Portal, North Dakota. She’d performed at the River Cree Resort & Casino in Enoch, Alberta on Aug. 16.

Etheridge knew this wasn’t a typical stop when she saw K-9 dogs ready to enter the bus. “I’ve crossed many, many borders in my life, hundreds of times,” she says. “I’ve never had a search like that.”

As the dogs sniffed the luggage and the bus, the agents “went through every little thing,” Etheridge recalls. Eventually, one dog poked its nose into her bag. “I had some cannabis oil, actually a vape pen, in my toiletry case and they found it. They didn’t get much, it was a small amount.”

Clad in her pajamas, Etheridge was taken into one of the rooms at the border for questioning. “I was fingerprinted,” she says. “The mug shot was taken with a cell phone! I was like, ‘Oh my God, I hope this never gets out!’” At the same time, she wanted “to send love with the photo. That’s why I’m smiling.”

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But she wasn’t happy at all about the incident and partially blames herself. “I’m mad at myself,” Etheridge admits. “I was careless. It’s an international border, I should’ve known better. But I hope this can move the issue forward, shed some light on how many people use cannabis as a medicine.”

Etheridge has been treating herself with cannabis ever since she

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The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission holds its October meeting to get an update on the progress of the application process for cultivation centers and dispensaries. (Photo: KATV)

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — 

Last minute applications are causing a slow down in the application process for medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries in Arkansas.

Monday afternoon, Joel DiPippa with the Department of Finance and Administration told the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission more time is needed to properly go through applications for cultivation centers and dispensaries.

DF&A has 95 applications for cultivation centers and 227 applications for dispensaries.

“The majority of those, 200 of them were all submitted on the very last day to submit them,” said DiPippa. “Which creates a bottleneck and creates a little bit of an administrative hang-up in trying to get them all processed.”

It also created a bottleneck for the background check process. DF&A Is still waiting on the FBI background check and fingerprint clearance to come back.

“The anticipation from what we are hearing is that the original November 1st deadline to receive that isn’t sufficient, which has been pushed back to December 1st to allow the FBI to process all of the applications,” said DiPippa.

There’s also a deadline of December 15 for DF&A to redact personal information from the applications to give to the commission.

While they’re waiting, commissioners also clarified minimum qualifications.

Applicants don’t have to include their 2016 tax return.

“Because of the time these applications were due, individuals who may have filed for an extension didn’t have their tax return,” said DiPippa. “And the commission determined that if they provide the seven years of tax returns, that would be sufficient, even if it’s not 2016 back,

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Credit: KTHV

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The first Medical Marijuana Commission meeting since applications were due in September drew a large crowd of people waiting for answers on when medical marijuana licenses will be issued.

After the meeting completed Monday, it was determined there is no set date on when licenses will be granted. Spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration Scott Hardin said the timeline is very broad.

“The goal is to now have cultivation licenses to commissioners for review by Dec. 15,” Hardin said. “While that does not give us a specific day the licenses will be announced, we do know it is going to be after the first of [2018].. Likely at least January, likely more into February.”

The commission also voted to announce who was granted a license and who was not all on the same day.

Hardin said the delay in granting licenses is due to a backlog on FBI background checks.

“December 1 we will be able to provide a little more update on where we are. We have to redact thousands of pages,” Hardin said.

The ABC Board also knows the number of application per each of the states 8 zones. Little Rock is in Zone 5 and has 13 cultivation applications and 41 dispensary applications. Each zone will have four dispensaries and 5 cultivation licenses.

“We know the number of applications per each of the 75 counties across the state. We have determined we have enough applications to have four dispensaries per region and 5 cultivation licenses,” Hardin said.

The commission also voted to refund applicants if they are not selected.

“Those applications that don’t meet minimum qualifications, they’ll be refunded in full. They’ll receive their full application prize back. So, that’s $7,500

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The University of Little Rock is moving forward with exploring the option of starting a football program and marching band.{ }

LITTLE ROCK (KUAR/KATV) — 

The University of Little Rock is moving forward with exploring the option of starting a football program and marching band.

According to the University, it has selected the firm Convention Sports & Leisure of Plano, Texas, to organize a study on the feasibility of football and a marching band.

The overall purpose of the study is to further evaluate whether a football program and marching band would be a “fiscal and meaningful addition” to UA Little Rock and the Central Arkansas community.

The cost of the study will be split between the city of Little Rock, UA Little Rock Athletics, and The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

The University says their portion of the money will come from private funds.

The selection of the firm in charge of the study is pending approval by the Arkansas Legislative Council.

If approved, the firm will begin its study later in the fall with an anticipated completion date sometime in the spring.

As a result, the study would put exact figures on both a startup and annual cost for Little Rock football.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Data from Arkansas’ Department of Finance and Administration show that most applications for medical marijuana distribution sites came in for Pulaski County, the state’s most populous county, while the largest number of cultivation applications list Jefferson County.

Each of eight regions in the state will have up to four dispensaries.

The state’s Medical Marijuana Commission was meeting Monday as it whittles down applications from those wanting to take part in a program established to aid people with certain medical conditions. It received 95 applications for cultivation sites and will select no more than five. There are 227 applications for dispensaries. Each of eight regions in the state will have up to four dispensaries.

There are 26 applications for dispensary sites in Pulaski County, plus 22 in Garland County and 17 in Washington County.

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After Weeks of Waiting, Arkansas Receives MMJ Dispensary Applications

Jefferson County has 13 applications for growing sites.

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Last week in marijuana legislative news, Nevada continued to debate the idea of cannabis lounges, Arkansas’ 2018 ballot measure was ruled too vague and California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two controversial marijuana bills. Read all about these developments and more in The Fresh Toast’s Marijuana Legislative Roundup for October 16.

Nevada:  

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that the Nevada Department of Taxation has requested an opinion from the state Attorney General as to the legality of cannabis consumption events and lounges. In September, the Nevada Legislative Counsel released a report stating that cannabis consumption at adults-only events and private venues was not prohibited under the 2016 legalization measure passed by voters.

The Legislative Counsel determined that marijuana could be consumed at venues that are closed to the public and where entry is restricted to people age 21 and older. The Counsel’s report also stated that municipal governing bodies have the authority to license businesses, lounges, and special events where marijuana may be consumed. However, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval pointed out at the time that Legislative Counsel reports are advisory in nature and do not carry the legal authority of an opinion by the Attorney General.  

Arkansas: 

On Monday, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office released a letter denying language for a proposed 2018 ballot measure on the issue of legalizing recreational cannabis. The letter argues that the language is too ambiguous to go on the ballot, expressing particular concern over limits on mature and non-mature plants. The Attorney General’s Office has denied all prior attempts at putting a legalization measure on the ballot.   

California: 

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed two bills that would have outlawed smoking and vaping at public parks and beaches in the state. One of the bills would have imposed a $100 fine on those caught smoking cannabis, tobacco, or electronic cigarettes at any public park or

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by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 12:00 am   1 min read

James Adametz

Natural State Medical Group Inc. has applied for a medical marijuana license and has sold $925,000 worth of shares of the company, according to its Oct. 2 filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Its total offering amount is $4.5 million. Don’t Miss Out Real Deals, Whispers and select cover stories are available only to print subscribers.

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As Dr. Joseph Parker sees it, he has little choice except to prescribe medical marijuana — even though doing so may raise some eyebrows in Texarkana, Ark.

“I was reluctant initially to agree to prescribe it, because you know anytime there’s a change in policy, whichever doctors agree to consider it first, people who disagree with that decision are going to look at harassing or attacking them. You put yourself out for a little scrutiny, and that wasn’t what I was looking to do,” Parker told the Texarkana Gazette .

Parker said doctors have to look at the safest medication possible to relieve a patient’s pain.

“I had patients who were suffering terribly on medications that could be very harmful to them under the wrong circumstances, or even if they use it just like it’s prescribed, sometimes things don’t go well,” he said.

Parker is Texarkana’s only physician yet to go public with the decision to authorize patients’ medical marijuana use. Arkansas voters elected last November to legalize the drug for treatment of certain medical conditions.

Despite the stereotype of a marijuana doctor as a thinly veiled drug dealer, Parker will not be handing out prescriptions to anyone who asks. His criteria are clear and stricter than state regulations. To get a prescription from him, a medical cannabis patient must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition by a different physician and willing to reduce use of a more dangerous drug.

Anyone coming to him expecting a bogus diagnosis and rubber-stamp prescription will be very disappointed, he said.

“I’m not going to have someone come in with no prior diagnosis, say they have anxiety and that they need this medication,” he said. “I want to make sure it is available to those it helps.”

Patients suffering from a variety of ailments

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Even rock stars aren’t safe from the long arm of the law. A new report has recently surfaced from a North Dakota customs stop late this summer, with TMZ revealing that folk-rock superstar Melissa Etheridge was arrested for marijuana possession.

According to Hollywood’s most successful crew of paparazzi, Etheridge was leaving Canada on August 17th, the day after performing at the River Cree Casino in Edmonton, when her tour bus was stopped at a customs check on the American side of the border in North Dakota. At the border crossing, drug-sniffing dogs boarded the bus and directed customs agents to a bottle of cannabis oil.

And while the cannabis oil is legal under certain circumstances in Canada, and is totally legal in Etheridge’s home state of California, the same cannot be said for North Dakota, where total prohibition is still the law of the land. Accordingly, Etheridge was placed under arrest and charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Etheridge told law enforcement officers on the scene that she uses the oil to combat the lasting effects of breast cancer and pleaded not guilty to the possession charge.

Since being diagnosed in 2004, Etheridge has been incredibly vocal about the success she’s had with marijuana-based medicine. “It worked even better than they said it would,” Etheridge wrote in a testimonial op-ed for the MMJ advocacy group New Approach Missouri.

Judging by her smiling mugshot, we’re guessing the folk-rock star was able to medicate before customs agents boarded the bus and confiscated the goods.

If Etheridge can find any comfort in the invasive arrest, at least she’s joining a club with some pretty prestigious members. Tour buses have long been a favorite target for quota-filling drug cops, with artists like Willie Nelson, Lil Wayne and more caught in the open road tour

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