Arkansas medical marijuana sales finally commenced after two years of delays and legal battles. State regulators issued a license to the first legal dispensary, Doctors Orders RX, located in Hot Springs after completing final inspections from the Alcoholic Beverage Control as well as the local fire marshall. Fortunately they were able to open their doors May 10th after working through some technical issues with the state’s track-and-trace software.
So far, there have been five cultivation facilities licensed, three of which are actually growing flower. One of the cultivators, Bold Team, processed their first harvest just in time for it to reach the shelves. Bold Team spokesman Robert Lercher estimated that the first harvest produced around 200 pounds of dried flower.
The other two cultivation companies, Natural State Medicinals Cultivation in White Hall and Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville expect to have their first harvest by Summer. Department of Finance and Administration Spokesman Scott Hardin noted that the remaining two cultivation facilities are currently under construction.
With around 11,000 registered Arkansas medical marijuana patients, it’s likely the supply will dwindle in the first few days of the dispensary opening. Author of the medical marijuana amendment, David Couch, voiced his concern saying “My biggest concern is that there’s going to be shortages right off the bat. They’re going to run out of product and people are going to be disappointed and back to zero again.”
A second Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary, Green Springs Medical, opened early last week and as expected patients came out in droves. Currently with such a low supply and high demand prices are averaging around $395 to $420 an ounce. DFA spokesman Hardin mentioned that more dispensary licenses would be issued soon saying, “The scenario we anticipate is by the end of May likely having three to five dispensaries operational with that number continuing to grow as we enter June, July and August.”
The staff of these newly opened dispensaries are well aware of the situation and are attempting to serve as many medical marijuana patients as possible. Doctors Orders owner Don Sears addressed the situation saying, "We expect long lines and apologize for any inconvenience. However, at this time, processing schedules are unpredictable and out of our control. But we are thrilled to finally be able to provide Arkansans with the prescriptions they have waited more than two years to fill."
Arkansas State Police drug agents are concerned that the high cost of cannabis will push some to seek their medicine off the street. Some patients are likely to purchase a small amount from a legal dispensary just to acquire the packaging that they will then fill with product purchased illegally. However, the quality of cannabis in untested and could contain harmful chemicals to those with serious medical conditions.