Arkansas’ fifth medical-marijuana dispensary will open to the public Wednesday, an official from the Hensley retailer said Monday.
The state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency cleared Native Green Wellness Center, 26225 U.S. 167 in Hensley, on Monday, announcing that the dispensary had passed its final inspection.
CEO Kattie Hansen said the retailer spent Monday stocking its inventory with edibles and dry cannabis flower. Native Green Wellness will begin seeing qualified patients at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
“We’re so very excited,” Hansen said in an interview.
Arkansas’ first medical cannabis dispensary opened May 10 — nearly 2½ years after Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana — and others have been slow to open, irking patients in far-flung areas of the state. As of Friday, the state Health Department had issued 15,484 patient or caregiver ID cards.
Native Green Wellness is the first dispensary to open in Pulaski County, the state’s largest county. Hansen said that based on conversations with cultivation officials, she expects the dispensary to sell about 40 pounds of medical cannabis each week. The facility is about 15 minutes from downtown Little Rock.
The other dispensaries are:
Doctor’s Orders in Hot Springs.
Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs.
Arkansas Natural Products in Clinton.
Greenlight Dispensary in Helena-West Helena.
Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, said that as of Saturday, 296.3 pounds of medical marijuana had been sold among the four open dispensaries, with sales of about $2 million.
He said Monday that only one other dispensary (Fiddler’s Green of Mountain View) has requested an inspection.
“But we’re continually hearing that others are very close,” he said.
Hardin also confirmed that a fourth cultivator expects to soon begin growing. Natural State Wellness Enterprises of Newport, he said, has indicated that it will be ready for inspection in the coming weeks.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission issued growing licenses to five cultivation companies and dispensary permits to 32 retailers. Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution allows up to eight growers and 40 dispensaries.
It took the commission more than two years to complete the licensing process, but its chairwoman, Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, noted at a meeting two weeks ago that cultivators and dispensaries have been slow to become operational since being issued licenses in July 2018 and February 2019, respectively.
Medical-marijuana company officials have said that a wet spring in Arkansas slowed construction progress.
Hansen said she wasn’t sure how many patients to expect in the first few days of opening, but she said the dispensary will have shaded outside areas, music and food trucks on the property on the first day.
Native Green, she said, has been in frequent contact with the software company that administers the state’s medical-marijuana tracking system. The system caused delays when other dispensaries opened their doors for the first time.
Hansen said the company has done everything in its power to ensure a smooth start.
“When we did intake with inventory this morning, they said that it went smoother than at the other dispensaries,” Hansen said.
Hardin said the software, which tracks the cannabis from seed until it’s sold to a patient, has a learning curve for those using it, but that it hasn’t caused significant problems once dispensaries get it up and running.
A Native Green news release encouraged patients to ensure that they arrive with all of their patient credentials, including the state-issued patient ID card. The cards are issued to patients who suffer from one of 18 qualifying conditions or to their caregivers.
The dispensary will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The dispensary will be open Sunday and July 14, but thereafter plans to be closed on Sundays, the release said.
It will accept cash only, and it has an ATM on site.
“Native Green Wellness is honored to have the privilege and responsibility to serve the state and is committed to community-focused education and research,” Hansen said in the release. “At NGW, we see patients, caregivers and physicians as partners in developing an education program that works for everyone.”
Full coverage of medical marijuana in Arkansas
CORRECTION: The first medical marijuana dispensary in Arkansas opened for business May 10. The wrong date was given in an earlier version of this article.