The Arkansas Beverage Control Board may rewrite state marijuana laws so it can revoke the licenses of dispensaries and cultivators that have not opened by mid-2020.

The state approved five cannabis cultivation facilities and 32 retail dispensaries in 2017, but only a handful have commenced operations. There are at least 26,000 people in Arkansas that need access to medical cannabis, and they are pressuring the ABC to clamp down on those that are yet to open their doors.

Director Doralee Chandler told a five-person regulatory panel that her agency has been constantly encouraging the businesses to expedite the process. “We are in the process of attempting to promulgate rules that will provide for an opportunity if they do not get up and in operation that would allow us the ABC board and myself to revoke those permits,” said Chandler.

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana legalization by a vote of 53% to 47% as an amendment to the state constitution in November 2016. It permits patients with a doctor’s recommendation to receive and possess up to 2.5 ounces to treat any one of 12 qualifying conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Tourette’s, Crohn’s, PTSD, severe arthritis, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.

The law also requires the state to issue between 20 and 40 licenses for dispensaries and four to eight licenses for cultivation facilities. It decided to issue 32 retail dispensary licenses and five cultivation licenses, with the potential to expand if necessary.

Yet the problem has been getting the businesses to start producing or selling cannabis. Chandler revealed that six retailers have pledged to open in November 2019, five have said they will open their doors in December and another 11 have indicated they will be ready to open in 2020, but she is now aiming to change the law in order to pile more pressure on them to act speedily.

If operations have not commenced, those licenses would be considered abandoned under the proposed new laws. However, this promulgation process could be convoluted.

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