Cathey to lead medical pot group
The chairman of the state medical board will serve in the same capacity for the newly formed Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association, the group announced Wednesday.
Dr. Steven Cathey will join Dustin McDaniel, the former state attorney general; David Couch, who sponsored the voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment; and four businessmen on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association.
The announcement means two groups are now vying to become the dominant voice for the burgeoning medical-marijuana industry in Arkansas.
“With the group of people that we’ve assembled — and the reputation and legwork of everyone on that list has put in on this issue — I think that we’re the group that most people are going to affiliate with,” Couch said. “I don’t think that there’s room for two. You need one voice.”
But Storm Nolan, president of the competing Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, noted his group has been active since February and is working on its affiliation with the National Cannabis Industry Association.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people come to our seminars and attend our patient events,” he said. “We’ve got a board of professionals — doctors, attorneys, lobbyists, accountants, industry experts from other states, so I think we’re set up very well as the industry association.”
He said he was confident his group would remain the dominant voice when dealing with regulators, lawmakers and patients.
There are similarities between the two organizations.
Couch said most of the people on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association are interested in participating in the industry.
Likewise, Nolan has said he is planning to apply for licenses to both grow and sell medical marijuana. The deadline to apply is Sept. 18.
However, some of the differences between the groups hark back to the competing medical-marijuana proposals in advance of the November election.
While Couch sits on the board of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association, Nolan said the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association is backing a Drug Policy Education Group proposal to add qualifying conditions so more people can use medical marijuana.
Melissa Fults is executive director of the Drug Policy Education Group. She advocated for Issue 7, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, which competed with Couch’s amendment and was knocked off the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court during early voting.