State commission issues 1 of 3 pot dispensary licenses; last 2 left vacant – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening to issue one of three remaining dispensary licenses in the state while opting not to issue the others.

Amendment 98, the constitutional change approved by Arkansas voters in 2016, allows for a maximum of 40 licensed dispensaries in the state. Prior to Tuesday, the commission had issued 37 of those licenses.

The new license was issued in Zone 4 to 3J Investments Inc. Zone 4 stretches across west-central Arkansas from Conway County to Sebastian County.

When the commission votes on whether to issue licenses, they automatically go to the highest-scoring active applicant in line in each zone.

The commission has established eight geographic zones to ensure that medical-marijuana businesses are spread across the state.

The next applicant in line in Zone 4 was River Valley Relief, but the limited liability corporation was formally dissolved in 2019, prior to being awarded a license, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s website.

Speaking on behalf of 3J Investments, Inc., the next applicant in line after River Valley Relief, attorney Michael Goswami said it was his interpretation of Amendment 98 that the commission could not legally issue a license to River Valley Relief.

“We don’t believe they’re eligible to receive this license,” Goswami said.

Board chairwoman Ronda Henry-Tillman agreed.

“If it’s dissolved, we need to move on to the next one on the list and let the courts do the rest,” Henry-Tillman said.

The commission’s discussion focused on medical-marijuana patient need in the Zone 4 area. There are no dispensaries in any counties neighboring Sebastian County, possibly leading to more cardholders in that area who have to drive or wait in line, or go across state lines to get what they need, commissioner Justin Smith said.

A letter to the commission from Stephen Smith,

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