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story.lead_photo.caption Acanza, a medical marijuana dispensary in Fayetteville, stands Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 2733 N. McConnell Ave. Medical marijuana dispensaries are reducing operational hours, taking orders online and limiting the number of people inside their locations in an attempt to prevent the spread of covid-19. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Medical marijuana dispensaries have seen a spike in sales since the covid-19 pandemic, but they may have to close if they are determined nonessential businesses, a state official said.

Dispensaries in Arkansas sold more marijuana Friday than on any other single day since the state's program launched in May 2019, said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Northwest Arkansas' four dispensaries sold a total of more than 29 pounds that day, according to an email from Hardin.

The state has not mandated that dispensaries take any specific measures because of the virus, such as cutting hours, doing home deliveries or only taking online orders, but many dispensaries have done so on their own, he said by phone.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

The Source, a dispensary in Bentonville, shortened its hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Up to three customers may be in the building at one time, said Erik Danielson of The Source. The Source had one window to dispense medical marijuana inside its lobby and recently added two windows in response to the coronavirus, he said. Each window may serve one patient at a time, and no one may wait inside the building.

Customers have been buying larger quantities of marijuana at one time than usual, he said. Danielson said people have been "acting crazy" while trying to stock up on medical marijuana since the coronavirus outbreak. In one instance, a patient threatened a staff member with physical violence, he said.

"We are not going to run out," Danielson said. "There is not a supply shortage."

Hardin said it hasn't been determined whether medical marijuana dispensaries would be considered essential businesses in the event that nonessential businesses are ordered to close and Arkansans are mandated to stay home except for essential travel.

Purspirit Cannabis Co. in Fayetteville is limiting the number of customers allowed in its building at one time, said Gates McKnight of Purspirit. Three customers are allowed in the lobby at one time, and three are allowed in the area where the marijuana is dispensed, he said.

"It's been going smooth," McKnight said.

Purspirit offers online ordering but does not do home deliveries, McKnight said. The dispensary is currently open its regular hours.

Acanza Health Group in Fayetteville has shortened its hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and is allowing no more than five people in the waiting room at one time, Randi Hernandez, owner of Acanza, wrote in a text message.

All Acanza orders must be placed online through Leafly, a website where people may place medical marijuana orders from some dispensaries. Acanza does not offer home delivery.

Metro on 03/26/2020

Print Headline: Medical marijuana sales spike in state

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