A bill signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday could disrupt location plans for a marijuana dispensary set to open in El Dorado.
Senate bill 665 (SB665), sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, amends the medical marijuana amendment of 2016 to include a distance requirement for facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. The bill prohibits marijuana dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of a facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.
The medical marijuana amendment already had provisions preventing dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of schools, churches and day care centers. Garner said not including facilities for those with developmental disabilities was an oversight.
“The original language included places like schools, day cares – you know, these populations that are vulnerable. I just think it was an oversight,” Garner said. “I think there’s some very big problems with the way it was written and we had to put together a legislative package to address it at the last session.”
It was announced in February that El Dorado would be the site of a medical marijuana dispensary when the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission awarded 32 dispensary licenses across the state. A representative from Verano Holdings visited the El Dorado City Council that same month to introduce the company as the license-holder and talk about their plans for the dispensary.
Wes McGowan, Verano’s vice president of real estate, told council members they were considering a property at 2511 Calion Road for the dispensary.
The Newman House is a facility for women with developmental disabilities, located directly behind Verano’s proposed dispensary location on Calion Road. Garner said the Newman House is about 300 feet from the proposed dispensary location and will prohibit Verano from opening a dispensary at the proposed location.
“I heard from some very concerned citizens in El Dorado who