NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) — Arkansas medical marijuana sales started strong, are continuing to grow and are expected to get even stronger when four dispensaries open in Northwest Arkansas.
“They have been really strong since the initial dispensary opened,” said Scott Hardin, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. “Sales have remained strong even as additional dispensaries have opened.”
There are six dispensaries selling medical marijuana in the state currently. The first — Doctor’s Orders in Hot Springs — opened on May 10, and the second — Green Springs Medical, also in Hot Springs — opened on May 12. Since then, roughly 400 pounds of medical marijuana has been sold from all six dispensaries, generating $2.7 million in revenue, according to Hardin.
The number of medical marijuana dispensaries and the amount of medical marijuana revenue in Arkansas is drastically lower than that of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma medical marijuana dispensaries started selling marijuana in late October 2018. By the end of January, 900 dispensaries were open across Oklahoma and $8,275,000 in medical marijuana revenue had been generated, according to Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority information provided by Jamie Dukes, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
There are currently 1,673 dispensaries across Oklahoma.
Much more medical marijuana is expected to be sold in Arkansas, Hardin said.
Thirty-two medical marijuana dispensaries are licensed to operate in Arkansas, including two in Bentonville and two in Fayetteville. A total of 12 to 15 should be open by the end of the year, Hardin said.
Hardin said at least 1,000 pounds of medical marijuana are estimated to be sold in Arkansas by the end of the year. However, Hardin also said 1,000 pounds is a low estimate.
Hardin said 1,000 pounds of medical marijuana has an approximate value of $6.7 million.
The four Northwest Arkansas dispensaries are expected to bring in impressive sales numbers, Hardin said.
“We’re receiving the question daily — ‘When will a dispensary be open in driving distance of Northwest Arkansas,'” Hardin said.
The two Bentonville dispensaries — The ReLeaf Center and Arkansas Medicinal Source Patient Center — are expected to open soon. Final inspection for The ReLeaf Center is scheduled for July 29. Final inspection for Arkansas Medicinal Source is scheduled for the same time frame, according to Hardin.
A dispensary typically opens one or two days after final inspection. The final inspection involves Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control agents checking the dispensary’s security systems and alarms, Hardin said.
“Security is a priority. We’re checking everything related to security to ensure the safety of patients, employees and the product itself,” Hardin said. “We’re checking the statewide tracking system to ensure the dispensaries tracking software is linked to the state’s software, which allows us to track sales in real-time.”The demand for medical marijuana is hot across the state.
“When the first two opened in Hot Springs, people were driving from all over the state to obtain the product,'” Hardin said.
In addition to the two Hot Springs dispensaries, one dispensary opened in Clinton, one in Helena, one in Hensley (located 19 miles outside of Little Rock) and one in Mountain View, according to Hardin.
Also, the state-licensed five cultivation centers for growing medical marijuana that dispensaries sell. So far, three of the five cultivation centers are operating, according to Hardin.
The five cultivation centers are spread out across the state. The first that opened — BOLD Team — is located in Cotton Plant. The other two that are operating are located in White Hall and Berryville. Two more are licensed to open in Newport.
Dispensary owners can apply for their dispensary to become grow dispensaries. Grow dispensaries are allowed to grow and maintain 50 marijuana plants on-site, Hardin said.
“So that makes it not quite as dependent on the cultivation facility,” Hardin said. “The majority of product will be provided by cultivation facilities, but it’s a way to complement that product.”
All four licensed Northwest Arkansas dispensaries will grow the product, Hardin said.
People from out of state can come to Arkansas to purchase medical marijuana, according to Hardin.
“We do have a program in which someone with a medical marijuana card from out-of-state can purchase the product here, but what we don’t allow is someone from out-of-state to obtain a medical marijuana card in Arkansas,” Hardin said.