The Natural State’s medical marijuana industry is high on intrigue.
The state Medical Marijuana Commission decided in its Dec. 8 meeting to award the latest dispensary license to 3J Investments, owned by Jeffery Catlett Fitch and Jeremy Ruiz, who plan to open a dispensary in Lamar (Johnson County). There was some controversy at the meeting over whether 3J was next in line to receive the lucrative license.
When the applications were scored and ranked in 2017, River Valley Sales LLC, the owner of River Valley Relief Dispensary, was ranked seventh in Zone 4 and 3J Investments was ranked eighth. Two applicants ranked ahead of them chose to pursue applications in other zones and pulled their applications from Zone 4.
The commission, which has divided the state into eight zones, allows a maximum of five dispensaries in each zone. Zone 4 consists of eight counties between Conway County and the Oklahoma border.
Before the Dec. 8 commission meeting, 3J Investments’ attorney Michael Goswami submitted a letter stating that River Valley was not eligible to receive a license because the company was dissolved and not registered with the secretary of state’s office. The letter cited language in Amendment 98 of the state constitution that states “A dispensary and a cultivation facility shall be an entity incorporated in the State of Arkansas.”
Commissioners were unsure whether to consider River Valley or 3J Investments as the next applicant in line to receive the license.
“You’re probably going to get sued no matter what you do,” Sara Faris of the state attorney general’s office advised the commission.
Stephen Smith, a representative for River Valley, attended the meeting via Zoom and attempted to speak, but commission chairwoman Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman did not recognize him. Before the meeting, River Valley