The Spring River Dispensary in Hardy has only been open Jan. 8, but has already sold 38.46 pounds of medical marijuana, with a lot of business in recent weeks, manager Sonja Kaselaan said.

The pharmacy formerly known as Arkansas Green Cross Cannabis is the newest of 32 state pharmacies, and Kaselaan said customers are likely to respond well to the fact that all goods are prepackaged.

“It’s really just word of mouth and trying to have that reputation that gets us above the norm,” she said. “We hope patients see that.”

Arkansans voted in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana through an amendment to the state constitution. The state issued its first cultivation permits in July 2018 after several legal delays and the first pharmacy opened in May 2019. Almost two years later, Arkansans spent $ 242 million on 36,656 pounds of medicinal cannabis, said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has licensed 38 pharmacies. The change called for 40, but the Commission decided in December not to grant the remaining two licenses. Hardin said the six upcoming pharmacies should open in the next two to three months.

Amendment 98 allowed eight marijuana growers to supply most of their product to pharmacies. Five are currently operational, and the other three, which received their licenses last summer, are slated to open this year, Hardin said.

The commission set up eight geographic zones to ensure that medical marijuana stores are spread across the state, with up to five in each area. Zones 6 and 8, which include west-central and southwest Arkansas, will each have four pharmacies, while the remaining six zones will each have five.

Two of the six pharmacies that have not yet opened are in Pine Bluff and the others are in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Osceola and Lamar. MissCo Cannabis Dispensary, which licensed in Osceola, requested the transfer to Jonesboro, but the commission denied the request at a meeting in November. MissCo appealed the decision and the commission will most likely hear the appeal in March, Hardin said.

One of the two pending pharmacies in Pine Bluff, Nature’s Herbs and Wellness, will reach out to the commission next month asking to change its name to The Treatment Cannabis Dispensary, said Quentin May, an attorney for the pharmacy.

The pharmacy received its license in June and is slated to open in the first week of April after weather and construction delays made it unlikely to open in March, May said.

“We’re not one of those who have been doing this for two and a half years and we still apologize for why we’re not open,” he said. “We got our license and went straight to work.”

3J Investments Inc. received its 38th and final pharmacy license from the Commission in December. Michael Goswami, the company’s attorney, did not disclose the name of the pharmacy, but Hardin said it will be the fifth pharmacy to be in Zone 4 in Lamar.

Green Remedies Group, a Little Rock holding company that owns medical marijuana companies, filed a complaint against the commission in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Jan. 13, Feb. 13. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Christoph Keller, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The five operational grow facilities are located in White Hall, Cotton Plant, Berryville and two in Newport. One of the Newport facilities, Natural State Wellness Enterprises Cultivation, has been renamed Good Day Farm and is moving to Pine Bluff in November with Commission approval. The remaining three cultivators will be in Fort Smith, Grady, and Hot Springs, Hardin said.

The Medical Marijuana Commission licenses pharmacies and cultivators, while the Alcoholic Beverage Control Agency oversees the regulation of businesses.

Eight of the 32 operational pharmacies have received licenses from the agency to grow their own marijuana plants, including most recently the Releaf Center in Bentonville, Hardin said. The change limits pharmacies to 200 plants with only 50 mature plants each, so their harvests are complementary and not intended to maintain the pharmacy’s entire supply. Pharmacies often use their growing capacity for special cannabis strains.

May said Nature’s Herbs and Wellness will apply for a growing license a few months after it opens.

“The plan is to have seeds in the dirt within six months,” May said.

Increasing sales

Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas were “really strong” in the final quarter of 2020, Hardin said. The highest sales were achieved on December 31st. Arkansans spent about $ 1.2 million in pharmacies that day, compared to the average daily sales of about $ 665,000, Hardin said.

The previous one-day sales record was $ 850,000 on November 20, compared to the then average of $ 600,000.

The Releaf Center has sold the most cannabis, at over £ 3,993 since it opened in August 2019. It surpassed Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, which opened as the second pharmacy in March 2019, and sells nearly £ 3,623 according to funding department data.

As of Thursday, 66,638 patient cards for active marijuana are registered with the health department. The cards are available to patients with at least one of 18 qualification requirements or their caregivers. Purchases are limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

Hardin said in November that sales have been on an upward trend since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the US, prompting health officials to recommend a two-week home medication supply. In pharmacies, the number of patients buying a maximum of 2.5 ounces in the first few weeks of the pandemic rose, according to Hardin, although the price of cannabis at that point was around $ 400 an ounce.

“We hope that as pharmacies continue to open, the price will become more competitive,” he said.

Pine Bluff’s High Bank Cannabis Co., one of eight pharmacies that are growing part of their own offering, has been open for a little over four months and is already in the top half of monthly sales of all 32 pharmacies, manager Micah said Davidson. The pharmacy sold between £ 70 and £ 80 in January.

Most of the customers are on site, but “we let patients drive 2½ hours away because they heard we were one of the better,” said Davidson.

The storm that Arkansas experienced last week didn’t have a significant impact on growth or sales in High Bank or Spring River, Davidson and Kaselaan said.

“”[Sales were]) higher than expected given the snow and how crazy it was for Arkansas itself, “said Kaselaan.” We actually saw some new patients. “

Status of the pharmacies