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Three members added to marijuana panel

by Rachel Herzog | May 30, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Three new members have been appointed to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission over the past few months.

They replace former panel members Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, Travis Story, and Justin Smith, whose terms expired at the end of January.

All three new members have participated in the last two commission meetings, state Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said in an email Thursday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office announced the appointment of Little Rock businessman and restaurateur Kevin Case on Wednesday.

Case is a former chairman of the Arkansas Tobacco Control Board and served from 2006 to 2020.

In March, House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, said he had named Reggie Thomas, an optimization specialist at Murphy USA from Strong, to the panel.

Thomas has worked for Murphy USA since 2005, Shepherd said in a news release.

James Miller, a governmental affairs consultant, was reappointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, and has served since March. He currently serves as chairman.

This term is Miller’s second time on the commission. He was one of the five original commissioners appointed after Arkansas voters approved the constitutional change legalizing marijuana for medical use in 2016.

Miller, of Bryant, is the owner and CEO of a consulting firm and previously served as chief of staff to former Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, and as chief legislative officer for then-Gov. Mike Beebe.

He was appointed by Dismang the first time and resigned in 2018 to focus his time and energy on his family and career, he said at the time.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

The five-member panel is made up of two appointees by the speaker of the House, two by the Senate president pro tempore and one from the governor. Commissioners serve four-year terms.

The commission grants licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries and growers. There are 38 licensed dispensaries in Arkansas, and 33 are operating. The commission has licensed eight cultivation facilities, five of which are in operation and the other three are working toward growing, Hardin said Thursday.

Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas surpassed $300 million this month, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.

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