Creating a medical marijuana program is no easy task – and the newly appointed five member panel known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission only has 120 days to put regulations in place and start licensing businesses as a part of the state’s newest industry. There is definitely pressure on the commission to have these regulations in place in order to get medicine to patients as quickly as possible – and they had their very first public meeting this week.
“We have some amazing members on the commission. They’ve done a great job at appointing. I think we are all prepared and ready to go for this,” said newly appointed Medical Marijuana Commission Chairwoman Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman.
The commission will be in charge of determining regulations about how medical marijuana will be grown, whether it will be grown indoors only, where facilities can be located, and what sort of inspections they will be subjected to. They also must determine who qualifies to work in a cultivation facility, as well as dispensaries. So far, the commission has said that they will be looking to states with successful medical marijuana industries for guidance on how to get things up and running as efficiently as possible.
“That’s going to be how we’ll pull this together so quickly,” said Medical Marijuana Commission member Travis Story.
They are required to begin accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities by June 1st at the latest. In total they will be licensing 20-40 dispensaries and anywhere between 4 and 8 cultivation facilities, which were the numbers specified by the amendment. If they start accepting applications at the start of June then there is a good chance that patients will finally have access to medical marijuana by the end of the year.
“It’s something new,” said Michael Langley, a lawyer and former ABC director. “It’s something that sounds exciting, but until all of this gets flushed out in the next 90 days, you don’t really know who wants to be involved and who doesn’t want to be involved.”
Considering some states that passed medical marijuana laws have taken up to two years to have them fully structured and implemented, this is certainly a time crunch for the people making the rules and licensing the industry – but with 20+ states with functioning medical marijuana programs to model theirs after, it should absolutely be doable. The commission will meet again next Tuesday when they will start working out the details for all the regulations, so it won’t be long before we know how medical marijuana will operate in Arkansas.