LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Happening any time now, an agreement will be finalized to score dispensary applications, putting Arkansas one very large step closer to seeing marijuana on the shelves.
"Arkansans could really see a dispensary open and selling product by January,” said Arkansas Department of Finance Spokesperson Scott Hardin Friday, Sept. 14.
In August, the Medical Marijuana Commission chose Public Consulting Group to grade the 203 dispensary applications and chose 32 winners to legally to sell marijuana in Arkansas.
"Public Consulting Group was the group with the $99,000 bid. Obviously, the lowest bid in this situation wins,” Hardin said.
Because Public Consulting Group's bid was under $100,000, the charge doesn't have to be approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council, speeding up the process considerably.
"Really the process is now on track with this agreement being finalized. And being able to move forward. We are looking at having these licenses in November,” Hardin said.
According to Hardin, many dispensary applicants have already begun construction in anticipation they may get a license, so they're just waiting on the piece of paper to open.
"Some of these, not all of them, chose to be a 'growing dispensary.' They can grow up to 50 plants and even bring in some mature plants,” Hardin said.
Those dispensaries won't have to wait until the cultivation facilities, or local marijuana farms, are up and running, which could be much later.
"Arkansans have expressed some frustrations, and we certainly understand it,” Hardin said. “They're ready to see that product on the shelves. There's been some speculation that we won't see that product on the shelves in 2019. That's not the case."
Others have shown concern that marijuana will only be available in northwest and central Arkansas. Hardin says that's not the case -- there will be eight zones with four facilities each, ensuring everyone has equal access.