Med­i­cal pot ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod starts

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRIAN FANNEY

The Ar­kan­sas med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram took a step for­ward Fri­day as state agen­cies be­gan dis­tribut­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for pa­tient cards and ac­cept­ing pa­per­work re­quired to run dis­pen­saries and cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

The state Depart­ment of Health said it is now tak­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for med­i­cal mar­i­juana reg­istry cards. To ap­ply for a card, a pa­tient is re­quired to ob­tain a doc­tor’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that the pa­tient has one of 18 qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions.

“Cards will be is­sued to qual­i­fy­ing pa­tients and care­givers about 30 days be­fore med­i­cal mar­i­juana is avail­able for le­gal pur­chase in the state, which is likely to be early next year,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the depart­ment.

In ad­di­tion to the doc­tor’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, the ap­pli­ca­tion re­quires a $50 an­nual fee and a copy of a valid Ar­kan­sas driver’s li­cense or other of­fi­cial Ar­kan­sas-is­sued iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The Depart­ment of Health re­it­er­ated that “pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana is still il­le­gal in the state un­less pur­chased in li­censed dis­pen­saries by card­hold­ers” and “there are no li­censed med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in Ar­kan­sas.”

Mean­while, the state Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Com­mis­sion be­gan tak­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to run five cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties and 32 dis­pen­saries.

While there are no ge­o­graphic re­quire­ments for the mar­i­juana farms, the store­fronts must be evenly dis­trib­uted across eight

zones in the state.

Jake Bleed, a spokesman for the Depart­ment of Fi­nance and Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said no one sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion Fri­day to open a med­i­cal mar­i­juana busi­ness.

How­ever, the Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Com­mis­sion, which is housed in the depart­ment, did make some changes to the ap­pli­ca­tion process.

An amended ap­pli­ca­tion, re­leased Fri­day, ad­dressed changes in how the Ar­kan­sas Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion ranks parts of Ar­kan­sas in terms of busi­ness need.

The mar­i­juana com­mis­sion had de­cided to grant bonus points to busi­ness own­ers who plan to put fa­cil­i­ties in ar­eas where jobs are needed. The up­dated ap­pli­ca­tions re­flect changes to the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion’s cal­cu­la­tions.

Also Fri­day, the mar­i­juana com­mis­sion re­leased an­swers to fre­quently asked ques­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, the com­mis­sion will not waive min­i­mum re­quire­ments,

such as dis­tance re­quire­ments from schools and churches.

How­ever, “chapels that do not op­er­ate as stand­alone place of wor­ship (for ex­am­ple, chapels lo­cated within a hos­pi­tal) are not churches for the pur­poses of med­i­cal mar­i­juana fa­cil­ity dis­tance re­quire­ments.”

The com­mis­sion also re­it­er­ated its stance on Arkansan own­er­ship.

“Ap­pli­cants must demon­strate that 60% of the own­er­ship

in­ter­est in the med­i­cal mar­i­juana fa­cil­ity is held by res­i­dent(s) of the state of Ar­kan­sas that has been a res­i­dent for at least 7 con­sec­u­tive years,” the doc­u­ment states.

The ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod for dis­pen­saries and cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties is open un­til Sept. 18.

Forms to ap­ply to open a fa­cil­ity are avail­able at www. mmc.ar­kan­sas.gov. Forms to ap­ply for a pa­tient card are avail­able at www.healthy.ar­kan­sas.gov.

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