State regulators upheld three charges against one of Arkansas' most successful medical-marijuana dispensaries on Wednesday while increasing the fine the agency recommended by $1,000.
Green Springs Medical dispensary of Hot Springs had been charged with rule violations that included two counts of failing to verify the identity of qualified patients prior to dispensing medical cannabis and one count each of failing to properly maintain video surveillance and allowing an unauthorized person inside the facility. Those stemmed from discoveries made in July and October.
Each of those violations carries a fine of up to $5,000 under the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division's rules, according to an attorney for the agency. The division recommended a fine of $6,500, which the board voted to increase to $7,500, or $2,500 per each of three violations.
Board member Jamie Anderson made the motion to find dispensary owner Dragan Vicentic guilty of the violations while reducing the fine. Anderson and fellow board member Steven Smith noted that Wednesday's meeting marked the second time Vicentic had come before the board to appeal violations. The board dismissed one violation and sustained two others against Green Springs Medical in February 2020.
"I think the first time we visited with Mr. Vicentic we were very lenient. This is number two. I myself see reasons to be lenient in terms of maximum fines that are available to us," Anderson said.
Wednesday's hearing was the third appeal to the board from a medical-marijuana company since the first cultivation licenses were issued in 2018.
Q. Byrum Hurst, attorney for Green Springs Medical, said Vicentic appealed because the violations were innocent mistakes that he tried to correct immediately.
"I think it's reasonable to say that he didn't intend to violate the regulations," Hurst told the board.
Green Springs Medical is the second-highest selling dispensary in the state, having sold 4,238.69 pounds of medical marijuana since it opened in May 2019, according to numbers provided by the Department of Finance and Administration on Wednesday. It was also one of the first dispensaries in the state to open.
CORRECTION: The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division recommended a fine of $6,500 on Green Springs Medical dispensary of Hot Springs, and the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control board on Wednesday chose to increase that fine by $1,000, to $7,500, or $2,500 per each of three violations. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported state regulators' action on the fine.