Two Arkansas cities have imposed months-long bans on medical-marijuana facilities, a test of local control as prospective growers and sellers prepare to vie for state licenses beginning June 30.
Siloam Springs’ Board of Directors on Tuesday adopted a 180-day moratorium on medical-pot businesses with a unanimous vote that came two weeks after Hot Springs city directors passed a similarly worded 90-day ban.
The cities’ decisions to not offer local business licenses to dispensaries and cultivation facilities could reverberate for longer than their bans because potential businesses have just 90 days to apply for a limited number of state licenses. Siloam Springs’ moratorium would extend well beyond the state’s Sept. 18 deadline to submit applications.
“That really takes that whole city out of contention, doesn’t it,” Storm Nolan, co-founder of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said of the Northwest Arkansas border city.
The voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment says that local governments cannot prohibit marijuana growers and distributors from operating in their jurisdiction unless voters approve a ballot issue to keep them out.
“We are not prohibiting it,” Siloam Springs City Administrator Phillip Patterson said. “We have created a stay for a period of time. Cities have historically had a right to put a stay on certain uses in order for the city to review its code, update its code or adopt its code.”
Mark Hayes, director of legal services for the Arkansas Municipal League, said both cities are his clients and that neither previously spoke with him about temporary bans. He said he learned of the action this week and couldn’t comment on whether their moratoriums might violate the state constitution.
“I am in the process of consulting with them about this very