The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment passed last November, officially legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Since then, an Arkansas Medical Marijuana commission has been appointed to create the procedures, rules and regulations involved in becoming part of the medical marijuana industry. The first decisions have started to come through from the commission, starting with medical marijuana growing fees and requirements. As it turns out, the annual fee for marijuana growing will be $100,000. On top of this, applicants will need to have a $1 million bond or assets and be able to show $500,000 cash liquidity.
Keeping Applications Fees Comparatively Low
The fee for applying to grow will be $15,000. This fee amount was proposed by one of the commissioners, Dr. Carlos Roman. He suggested keeping the price low in order to allow as many people as possible to apply. “It’s an expensive endeavor, so it’s not something that someone could just go in with $10,000 and start a cultivation facility, “ explains Roman. “The cost is very high. So we want to respect the price point on it, but I’m just trying to fight at every level to make it accessible to as many people … to make it open to as many Arkansans as possible.”
The High Price of Marijuana Growing
Commissioner Travis Story had suggested a $185,000 license fee, believing the marijuana growing fee is an important aspect of the industry since it would go to funding the commission and law enforcement. The Arkansas state finance department has estimated that it will cost somewhere between $4 million and $6 million a year to pay for both the commission and law enforcement. Both Roman and Story pointed out that due to the fact that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, growers will not be able to get bank loans if they run out of money. The requirements decided upon let the commission know they will be able to pay for themselves regardless.
Attorney David Couch, who sponsored Issue 6, the amendment that legalizes medical marijuana in Arkansas, said it’s important for cultivators to have adequate funding so as not to rely on banks. “You want to make sure the person who gets the license has the ability to produce and grow the product to get to the patient because if we don’t then our whole system collapses,” says Couch.
What’s Next for Arkansas Medical Marijuana?
The commission’s next task will be to decide on the fees and requirements that will be in place for those who want to run dispensaries. They then have until June to finalize the rules for how residents can apply for growing and dispensary licenses.
Arkansas is the first state in ‘the Bible Belt’ to have a medical marijuana program. It will allow those with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s disease to receive medical treatment. It also covers patients with chronic or debilitating disease that produces: cachexia or wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain, severe nausea, seizures and severe or persistent muscle spasms. Should everything stay on schedule, the industry is expected to be up and running by 2018.