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Arkansas’ Green Crawl: Why Farmers Don’t See Cannabis as a Cash Crop
Author: Lesley Nickus 08/09/2017 - 23:14:00

On Nov. 8, voters passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 to implement medical marijuana in the state of Arkansas. The floor was open for cultivators and retailers to request a seat at the table. But applications came in at a trickle. 

The state began taking medical marijuana patient applications on June 30. Since then, more than 800 patients have requested access to obtain medical cannabis when the program launches “early next year.” 

The state received its first cultivator application on Aug. 30. As of Friday, 7 cultivation applications and 13 applications to sell cannabis products had been turned in. Compare that with the state of Ohio, where 185 applicants hope to receive one of the state’s 24 grow licenses; or Minnesota, where more than 200 people showed up to an informational meeting ahead of the state’s Sept. 19 application start date. 

David Couch, a Little Rock attorney and acting executive director of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association, a trade organization created to represent the interests of the Arkansas medical marijuana community, told Marijuana.com he is not concerned by how long the Arkansas applications are taking to come in. Couch was instrumental in getting the amendment on the ballot.

“There’s no incentive to file the application sooner,” he said. “There are no bonus points for filing early.”

Indeed, applicants must set aside a significant amount of funding and time to even put their name in the hat. The application process is lengthy and detailed. Interested parties must submit proof of $1 million in assets — $500,000 of which must be liquid — and pay a non-refundable application fee of $15,000. The cultivation application itself is 27 pages long and businesses must include detailed plans that outline proposed locations, stakeholders, proof of residency for at least seven years, and more.  

Beyond the complexity of the application process, however, lies a greater source of conflict for anyone in the US looking to convert their property to cultivate cannabis. The growing chasm between state cannabis laws and the plant’s federal designation as a Schedule I substance creates a business environment where, for many, the stakes are still too high.

More on marijuana.com:Arkansas’ Green Crawl: Why Farmers Don’t See Cannabis as a Cash Crop


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