John Lyon/ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ medical-marijuana program is off to a mostly smooth start, observers say, but it has hit a few rough patches along the way.
On June 30, the state Health Department began taking applications for registration cards to allow people with certain medical conditions to buy and use the drug when it becomes available, and the Medical Marijuana Commission began taking applications for licenses to operate growing or dispensing facilities.
By the end of last week, 65 Arkansans had applied for registration cards. No one had applied for a license to grow or sell medical marijuana.
In May, Bill Rector, a Little Rock realtor and president of Renaissance Properties Limited, teamed with Rick Henderson, owner of a Little Rock tree trimming company called Apple Tree Service, to request a city permit for a Pine Bluff growing operation under their company, Newsouth Agriculture, LLC.
Newsouth submitted the permit request, which was approved by the Pine Bluff Planning and Development Commission, to operate a cultivation, production and sales facility for medical marijuana at 2404 South University Avenue. Rector estimated that he and his partner would spend $1.5 million to renovate the property, which previously housed Greenway Equipment, a John Deere dealership.
Rector assured the planning commission in May that the facility would meet strict policies for security mandated by the state, including perimeter fencing, lighting, surveillance cameras and 24-hour security. The marijuana will be grown in an indoor greenhouse, he said, and they plan to employ between 20 and 40 workers. They also plan to offer internships to UAPB chemistry and agriculture students.
“These are going to be good jobs, indoor jobs,” Rector said. “We’ll hire everybody from agricultural workers to chemists. We’re going to basically operate a laboratory.”
The Newsouth application must still receive approval