THE ISSUE: Growing medical marijuana in Pine Bluff. THE IMPACT: Proponents say it could benefit the local economy, while those against the issue say it’s bad for the city’s image.
The Pine Bluff Planning and Development Commission on Tuesday approved a request by two Little Rock businessmen to operate a medical marijuana cultivation facility just north of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff baseball stadium.
The facility would be one of five such facilities allowed under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Board, which set the rules after Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment in November to legalize medical marijuana. The five facilities would operate as wholesale operations distributing to 32 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.
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 the permit under their company, Newsouth Agriculture, LLC.
Newsouth submitted a permit on review request 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 commission 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 from the three state