Medical marijuana inching toward availability

A year after a medical marijuana law was passed, patients are still waiting to get the drug.

It's been just over a year now since Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana in the state, but we have yet to see the plant available to patients.

Many patients have argued the process is taking a long time. But if you ask those who are working to implement medical marijuana in the state, there is a lot that goes into it and they think by this time next year, you'll see dispensaries opening.

Since voters legalized the plant, we've seen the formation of the medical marijuana commission, new rules and regulations and a competitive business forming.

"It has been a very, very busy process," said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission.

Nearly 100 applicants are fighting for five licenses to grow the drug and more than 200 are competing to be one of the 32 distributors.

"We are still working to get those applications prepped and ready for commissioners," said Hardin.

Right now legal teams are depersonalizing the cultivation applications.

“It basically means we go in and remove the names from each application," Hardin said.

The goal is to have them ready for the commission to begin scoring them by Dec. 15. They hope to issue licenses early next year.

"Could be January, could be March, we've not been able to pin that date down at this point," said Hardin.

Then, cultivators will need time to build and grow their plants. Growing marijuana can take three to four months. With this timeline, marijuana may be ready for patients by the middle or end of next year.
The applications are hundreds or thousands of pages each which is why the prepping them for grading is taking months. Right now the focus is on cultivation facilities. Applications for dispensaries have yet to be looked over.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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