story.lead_photo.captionFILE – In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Two more marijuana dispensaries are on the move in southeast Arkansas.

Citing problems with the initially proposed dispensary sites, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday approved new locations for Arkansas Patient Services and Pine Bluff Agriceuticals.

Arkansas Patient Services had planned to be in Warren, but it will instead open a dispensary in a repurposed bank branch at 329 U.S. 425 in Monticello.

Pine Bluff Agriceuticals will remain in Jefferson County, moving from 108 Grider Field-Ladd Road in Pine Bluff to 3416 U.S. 65 South in Pine Bluff.

[RELATED: See complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of medical marijuana in Arkansas at]

The Pine Bluff dispensary proposed the move because of difficulties with the title transfer on the Grider Field-Ladd Road property.

Arkansas Patient Services said its original site in an industrial park would have required extensive excavation work to prepare the ground for construction.

By moving, owner Adrian Ray said, the dispensary could be open within 45 days.

Commissioners did express some frustration that the need to move wasn’t brought to their attention sooner. However, the request was approved unanimously over the objection of Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington, who asked the commission to deny the request because of the negative economic impact the business’s absence would have on Warren.

“Unfortunately, as a rural community, we have experienced the nation-wide trend of a declining population and subsequent declining economic conditions associated with the national trends,” Pennington wrote in a letter. “Potential positive impact can come from private investments as well as state and federal assistance in supporting a positive economic impact on our community. The proposed dispensary is the private investment that will benefit our economy.”

Ray told the commission that he and his partner made “countless” trips to Warren and worked with a Realtor to identify alternative dispensary sites. However, the Monticello location stood out because it already has the required vault installed.

The two dispensaries join a host of other medical marijuana retailers that have changed locations since the commission issued dispensary licenses in January 2019.

The moves have been prompted by a variety of issues, and they have delayed Arkansas’ medical cannabis market from reaching maturity.

Out of 34 licensed dispensaries, 13 remain unopened. All five of Arkansas’ cultivation facilities are operational.

Arkansans voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2016, approving Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution.

As of Friday, 41,336 medical marijuana cards had been issued to patients or registered caregivers, according to the Department of Health.

Metro on 03/12/2020

Print Headline: 2 marijuana dispensaries receive approval to move

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