Talk Business & Politics: Medical marijuana business applications see end-of-the-month surge

Read the full article at Talk Business & Politics.

Natural State of Kind was part of an end-of the-month surge of applications to open pot-growing facilities and retail dispensaries inside Arkansas state boundaries as industry officials anticipate a rush of submissions ahead of the state’s Sept. 18 deadline.

Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration spokesman Scott Hardin told Talk Business & Politics that Wednesday was the busiest filing day for cultivation and dispensary applications since the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission opened the highly competitive process on June 30.

 

“We now have a total of five dispensary applications and two for cultivation,” Hardin said, adding that the Commission expected to receive additional applications later today.

In early May, the Legislature approved the proposed emergency and regular rules that were submitted by the state Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). On June 30, the Commission began accepting bids for five operators to up to eight marijuana growing facilities and another 32 dispensary applicants to operate up to 40 retail locations in four quadrants of the state.

Once applications are delivered to the commission by Sept. 18, those accepted will be time-stamped and applicants must then submit a payment voucher for the required fee of $15,000. Applicants will be able to modify a submitted application at any time prior to the final submission deadline, which will be subject to the state Freedom of Information Act. Applicants must also provide proof of assets or a surety bond in the amount of $1 million and proof of at least $500,000 in liquid assets.

‘PLENTY’ OF APPLICATIONS PREDICTED
Storm Nolan, founder of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA), has said he expects a “deluge of applications” ahead of September’s deadline, and also expressed frustration with some media reports suggesting that medical cannabis might not be available because of lack of sufficient interest in the state’s newest industry. In addition, the Arkansas Department of Health has only approved 769 applications for doctor-approved medical marijuana ID cards to buy pot, far short of the 20,000 to 40,000 predicted by some industry officials.

“There will be plenty of applications submitted in the end. Just because applicant groups are waiting until the last minute doesn’t mean that there’s little interest in people opening dispensaries and cultivation facilities,” said Nolan, a Fort Smith real estate developer.

Nolan said the vast majority of investors groups that his trade group is working and speaking with have not turned in their applications because they are still working on assembling all of the necessary documents for the intricate process, and there is some confusion expressed by potential applications about early applications being subject to state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provisions.

A recent advisory memo issued by the Commission on Aug. 11 clarified the FOIA concerns and addressed a number of other FAQs, or “frequently asked questions,” asked by applicant, ranging from questions about how close could a pot-growing greenhouse be located to a school or daycare center to whether or not pharmacy consultants had to be licensed as agents to work at a cannabis dispensary.

ArkansasMatters: Benton Doctor Starts Growing Medical Marijuana Practice

Read the full article at ArkansasMatters here.

BENTON, Ark. – Less than 20 doctors in the Natural State will currently sign off on medical marijuana certification forms for patients.

That’s according to the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association.

The doctors have been busy. To date, the Arkansas Department of Health has approved 800 patients’ applications to buy the drug.

However, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding medical marijuana when it comes to hospitals and clinics.

For example, the UAMS Capitol Mall Clinic recently handed out notes to its patients that read, “Please be aware, per clinical policy the Providers here at Capitol Mall Clinic will NOT BE FILLING OUT the Medical Marijuana Physician Written Certification Form for medicinal marijuana.”

UAMS has since said the notes were passed out in error. According to hospital policy and the new state law, the decision to sign certification forms lies with each individual doctor.

While many at clinics in central Arkansas are still weighing the pros and cons, one Benton doctor jumped in.

“I told my staff, ‘Hey, let’s get geared up, let’s go,” said Dr. Roger Tilley. “We started getting phone calls almost immediately.”

Dr. Tilley has run Saline Medical Group since 1980. His young medical professional self never dreamed about prescribing cannabis.

Ganjapreneur: Arkansas Advocates Estimate 500 to 600 Jobs in Cannabis Industry Short Term

Read the original article at Ganjapreneur.

Cannabis industry advocates expect cannabis cultivation, dispensary, and laboratory jobs to reach between 500 and 600 in the short term, with 1,500 eventually being employed in the state’s industry, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Storm Nolan, president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said the number of jobs hinges “on how well [the state does] educating physicians and patients.”

“That’s not a small number, and as demand continues to ramp up, I see that number growing all the time,” he said in the report.

David Couch, the lawyer who sponsored the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment approved by voters, indicated that ancillary businesses, such as seed-to-sale tracking systems, lighting, and construction firms, would greatly contribute to the long-term job growth in the state.

“It’s going to cost a couple million dollars just to build out a facility,” Couch said in an interview with the Democrat-Gazette. “You’re going to employ carpenters – construction people. Then you’re going to need security along with production and testing.”

The state Medical Marijuana Commission is permitting five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries; however the Department of Finance and Administration has received few applications from prospective companies.Northwest Arkansas News reported last week that the agency received its first two dispensary applications but a single cultivator has yet to apply.

Michael Pakko, Arkansas Economic Development Institute chief economist, said that while 500 to 600 jobs is “not a very large percentage” of the state’s workforce, the opportunities are “a big deal” to the local communities where the jobs will be available.

ArkansasOnline: Medical marijuana industry expected to bring new jobs to Arkansas

Read the full article at ArkansasOnline.

A one-man testing lab in Greenbrier is poised to add up to seven employees, spend more than $1 million on equipment and buy several vehicles to capitalize on the coming sale of medical marijuana in Arkansas.

Kyle Felling, the owner of F.A.S.T. Laboratories, is one part of a burgeoning medical marijuana industry that’s expected to create hundreds of jobs in Arkansas, according to industry experts and representatives.

“It’s for medical use. Typically, the people will be immuno-compromised in some way or they’ve got some ailment going on, so you’ve got to make sure that it’s safe for people to consume,” Felling said of the marijuana. “That’s where the laboratory comes in and my company comes in.”

In-state dispensaries and cultivation facilities are expected to provide the bulk of the jobs. However, other services, like lab testing, are essential for the medical marijuana market to function.

Storm Nolan, president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said he expects between 500 and 600 people to be employed where marijuana is grown and sold in the near term.

“That’s not a small number, and as demand continues to ramp up, I see that number growing all the time,” Nolan said. “A lot of it hinges on how well we do educating physicians and patients.”

David Couch, the Little Rock lawyer who sponsored the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment that was approved by voters in November, said he eventually expects 1,500 jobs or more in dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Nolan and Couch said hundreds more jobs are expected in ancillary businesses, like F.A.S.T. Laboratories.

“There’s inventory tracking systems. Somebody’s going to sell that, monitor that,” Couch said. “All the lights have to be sold and installed. There’s construction. It’s going to cost a couple million dollars just to build out a facility. You’re going to employ carpenters — construction people. Then you’re going to need security along with production and testing.”

The accuracy of job estimates is expected to improve with time.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics will begin releasing data Sept. 6 under an updated jobs classification system that details marijuana wholesalers, stores and grower employment, David Hiles, an economist with the bureau, said in an email.

State-grown medical marijuana is expected to be available in mid-2018 to Arkansas residents who have medical marijuana cards. To get a card from the Arkansas Department of Health, a doctor has to certify that a patient has a qualifying condition, like chronic pain.

SERVING THE INDUSTRY

Specialty companies will be needed to ship, test, market, enforce, track, insure, construct, lobby, inspect, secure and bank in the industry.

However, it’s an open question whether many of the businesses will be locally owned.

While the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission mandated that dispensaries and cultivation facilities be majority owned by Arkansans, there’s no similar requirement for the businesses that will serve them.

James Yagielo, chief executive of Florida-based HempStaff, said many end up being from out of state.

“There are always some ancillary businesses,” he said. “A lot of them — like us — are national, but you do get some that pop up.”

Nolan said he expects more ancillary businesses to enter the market as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission develops licenses for transportation, distribution and processing. Those licenses remain on the to-do list of the commission, which currently is taking applications for dispensaries and growers.

And, he said, the industry will have at least one local bank, which he declined to name.

As for Felling, he says local businesses have advantages even as economic forces from other states that sell medical marijuana descend on Arkansas.

“I would hope that Arkansas businesses will rise to the occasion. I’ll put it that way,” Felling said. “A lot of people don’t want to see Colorado businesses coming here, California businesses coming here, and it’s not because they can’t do good work. It’s because people would like to see Arkansans helping Arkansans out.”

F.A.S.T. Laboratories currently provides analytical services to industries, like environmental sampling. It’s a one-man shop.

But the coming medical marijuana industry gives Felling the opportunity to expand. The Arkansas Department of Health requires medical marijuana to be tested for potency, pesticides and heavy metals, among other things.

“We’ll help improve the quality of the material that’s provided to customers,” Felling said. To carry out his plans, he intends to hire a chemist, several lab technicians, drivers and samplers.

Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the nature of the marijuana business — highly regulated with dispensaries and cultivation facilities required to each have unique ownership — is costly, but can also provide additional employment.

For example, Felling said, state regulations require two people be present when marijuana is being transported.

While Felling, who earned his doctorate in inorganic and analytical chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, concentrates on his lab, he says his father, with decades of logistics experience, is looking into transporting medical marijuana.

“Marijuana can’t be shipped via FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service,” he said. “It’s got to be hand-delivered. You’ve got to have companies set up to do that with proper security protocols and everything else that goes along with it.”

INSIDE THE STORES, FARMS

Two types of licenses have been devised for medical marijuana facilities in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission authorized five cultivation facilities for medical marijuana to be grown and 32 dispensaries for it to be sold. The due date to file applications is Sept. 18.

The businesses are expected to serve between 20,000 and 40,000 medical marijuana patients, according to a state estimate. Under state rules, the companies must be majority-owned by Arkansans.

The commission did not set a deadline for sorting through the applications. Commissioners said they have no idea how many applications they will receive.

When those facilities are up and running, Yagielo said, he expects between 45 and 60 people to work for the cultivators — cavernous indoor warehouses where medical marijuana will be grown.

He discussed the different jobs and how much they are likely to pay, citing national rates.

Entry-level jobs include trimming marijuana at around $10 an hour. Assistant growers, who plant and nourish marijuana, will earn $15 to $20 per hour. Master growers, who manage operations, will make between $40 to $60 per hour.

There’s pressure to locate the cultivation facilities in poor parts of Arkansas because extra points are awarded to applicants who say they will locate in economically disadvantaged areas.

“I certainly know groups that are locating to counties specifically because of those bonus points,” Nolan said.

Dispensaries, which will serve as medical marijuana retailers, will be dispersed equally among eight zones determined by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

Most dispensaries start with around five employees, Yagielo said.

Each store’s general manager will earn around $20 per hour. Dispensary agents, who interact with patients, will make $12 to $15 per hour.

If the agents “don’t give the right product to someone and they don’t think it works, well, they’ll think medical marijuana is a farce,” Yagielo said.

In Arkansas, each dispensary must hire a licensed pharmacist to serve as a consultant under Act 1024 of 2017 by state Rep. Clint Penzo, R-Springdale.

Under state regulations, each dispensary will be allowed to grow a maximum of 200 plants. Yagielo said he hadn’t heard of other states allowing dispensaries to grow plants, and he couldn’t predict what additional employment could result from that.

While hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the medical marijuana industry — on par with a large state economic development project — Arkansans may not feel the same impact because the jobs will be spread throughout the state, Pakko said.

“Five hundred to 600 jobs — that would be a pretty good economic development project, but in the overall scheme of things, that’s not a very large percentage of Arkansas’ workforce or employment base,” he said. “Now in the local communities where those jobs are going to be, it can be a big deal. It can be a significant impact.”

Marijuana Industry News: Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association Announces First Hire

Read the full article at Marijuana Industry News.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Aug. 23, 2017 /Weed Wire/ — The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association is proud to formally announce the hiring of Erin Holland, owner of Amplify, a newly-formed digital media and marketing company in Little Rock.

Erin will serve as Media Specialist and Membership Consultant for the ACIA. In this role, she will build and implement our media, marketing and event promotion strategies, and work with our board and industry professionals to develop a membership program for medical cannabis patients, physicians, and business leaders in the Arkansas cannabis industry.

“This is an important moment for our association, one I think every nonprofit strives to get to,” says Storm Nolan, ACIA President. “We knew Erin had the knowledge and experience we needed for this role, but what we didn’t anticipate was her passion for our cause. You can’t have the brains without the heart, it doesn’t work like that.” He adds, “We are confident Erin will be an enormous asset in reaching Arkansas medical cannabis patients, health professionals and business leaders looking for an ally who is willing to fight for them.”

Erin has a strong background in media, publishing, branding and advertising, with previous positions at the Arkansas Times, Sells Agency and Agency501. In these roles, she excelled in print and digital advertising and production, digital and traditional media buying, and social media content strategy. She also Co-Founded Little Rock for Bernie Sanders 2016, a grassroots organization created to promote the candidacy of Bernie Sanders throughout the 2016 presidential primaries. In this role, Erin organized community events and debate watch parties, distributed educational materials and managed the group’s social media accounts.

Erin is a graduate of State University of New York at Geneseo with bachelor of arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology.

For more information, please contact Erin Holland at erin@arcannabis.org.

Talk Business & Politics: Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association hires media specialist

Read the full article at Talk Business & Politics.

Erin Holland has been hired as the media specialist and membership consultant for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association. She is the first paid employee of the association that was formed in February 2017.

Holland owns Little Rock-based Amplify, a newly-formed digital media and marketing company.

Her job with the ACIA includes creating and implementing a marketing plan and to develop a membership program for patients, doctors and business owners and managers in the medical marijuana industry.

“This​ is ​an​ important​ moment​ for​ our ​association,​ one​ I​ think​ every ​non-profit​ strives​ to get​ to,” Storm​ Nolan,​ ACIA ​president, said in a statement. “We ​knew​ Erin​ had​ the knowledge ​and​ experience​ we needed​ for​ this​ role,​ but​ what​ we​ didn’t​ anticipate​ was her​ passion ​for​ our​ cause.​ You ​can’t​ have the​ brains​ without ​the​ heart,​ it​ doesn’t​ work like ​that.”​

Erin Holland

Holland’s previous work includes the Arkansas​​ Times,​ Sells​​ Agency​ and​ Agency501. She​ also​ co-founded ​Little​ Rock ​for​ Bernie​ Sanders 2016,​ a​ grassroots organization created​ to​ promote​ the​ candidacy​ of Sanders during the​ 2016 presidential​ primaries.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from State University of New York at Geneseo.

Fayetteville Medical Cannabis Patient Health Fair & Symposium


 

Thanks to everyone who attended to learn more about medical cannabis and the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Facebook event

With speakers:

Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, MD. MPH. FAAFP
Founder/CEO Global Health & Hygiene Solutions, LLC – Uplifting Health & Wellness
Family Medicine, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Cannabis Medicine

Dr Tammy Post Hormone Expert, Host of the Naked Dr., Family, Functional medicine, and wellness expert.

Wendy Love Edge, BS, Founder Bulldozer Health Inc.

Coltyn Turner

Melissa Larkin Fults

Allee Anabal Walker, RN, Eden Energy Practitioner

Hayden A. Heningsen, L.AC, Dipl.OM, CYT – Active Life Acupuncture and Wellness Center

Hayden Henningsen, L.Ac, DiplOM is the owner and practitioner at Active Life Acupuncture and Wellness Center, LLC. in Fayetteville, AR. After his post-graduate training with some of the world’s leading herbalists and 10 years of practice, he has come to specialize in medical pulse diagnosis and prescription Chinese Herbal Medicine for the treatment of a large number of internal medicine problems such as anxiety, IBS, insomnia, asthma/allergies, migraines, and menstrual issues. He also uses the medicine to address all types of chronic pain and neuropathy. He maintains the largest herbal pharmacy in the region and treats patients across the U.S. and around the world.
Hayden A. Henningsen, L.Ac, Dipl.OM, CYT
Active LIfe Acupuncture and Wellness Center
Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Weight Loss, Physical Medicine
2592 N Gregg ave #10 Fayetteville, AR 72703
479-358-7690

And more!

Free health Treatments:
Massage
Bowenwork
Active Life Acupuncture
Bemer
Essential oils
Cryofactor Wellness Center
Free food from Mojo’s
Local Music

Arkansas Online: Board Chief Rejects Medical Marijuana Group Role

Read the full article here.

The head of the Arkansas State Medical Board said he was never a part of a new medical marijuana association days after a news release indicated he was the chairman.

In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Steven Cathey said he was approached by members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association and discussed a role with them but that he ultimately chose not to participate.

“I believe that organized medicine should be involved in implementing the policies regarding this newly approved medicinal drug, but because of what I believed to be a conflict of interest, I declined to accept an offer to serve on this association,” he said.

In the midst of the confusion over the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association’s launch, the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, a group that formed earlier this year, moved to hire its first staff member at a board meeting Tuesday. The associations are competing to represent the industry in Arkansas.

Erin Holland, owner of Amplify Digital Media & Marketing, will serve as media specialist and membership consultant for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association.

Storm Nolan, president of the cannabis association, said Holland will start organizing membership for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and ancillary businesses like insurance brokers. She will also prepare for the Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo at the Statehouse Convention Center on Dec. 6 and 7.

“I think every nonprofit strives to get to this point,” he said of the hire.

At the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association, David Couch, the Little Rock-based lawyer who sponsored the voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment and sits on the association’s board, said a new chairman would be announced soon.

He said Cathey had agreed to serve on the board.

The concern was that Kevin O’Dwyer, an attorney for the medical board, thought Cathey “had a conflict of interest because he might have to discipline doctors who overprescribe marijuana,” Couch said. Couch said he thought that Cathey could recuse himself from those decisions to avoid a conflict of interest.

In the interview, Cathey said his name should not have been included in an Aug. 9 news release from the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association naming him chairman.

O’Dwyer said Tuesday that Cathey’s decision not to participate was based on “the possible conflicts that could arise” with his position as chairman of the medical board.

“I just think he felt uncomfortable about it and just thought, ‘Well maybe I’d better decline membership based on my position with the board,'” O’Dwyer said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had criticized Cathey’s reported role at the medical marijuana association in a statement to Talk Business & Politics on Friday.

“I was not aware of this decision, and I don’t think someone on the Medical Board should be associated with a medical marijuana advocacy group,” Hutchinson said in the statement Aug. 10.

J.R. Davis, a spokesman for the governor, confirmed the statement and said the governor did speak with Cathey about his concerns last week.

Information for this article was contributed by Andy Davis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 08/17/2017

Print Headline: Board chief rejects Rx-pot group role

KATV: Governor wary of state medical board chair serving on medical marijuana assocociation

Read the full article here.

A newly created medical marijuana advocacy group that includes former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and reportedly State Medical Board Chairman Dr. Steven Cathey has waded into controversy only a day after announcing that it would serve as the “leading voice” for the state’s fledgling cannabis trade.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he was wary of Dr. Cathey serving on the medical board while also holding a board position with the newly established Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association (AMMA) just over a month ahead of the state-imposed deadline to accept bids one of the five cultivation facilities or 32 dispensaries that will likely begin operations in early 2018.

“I was not aware of this decision, and I don’t think someone on the Medical Board should be associated with a medical marijuana advocacy group,” Hutchinson said in response to a query from Talk Business & Politics.

The AMMA announced its formation Wednesday with a board of seven prominent Arkansans and out-of-state consultants that plan to lobby for medical marijuana cultivators, distributors and businesses that serve the industry in Arkansas. On Friday, AMMA’s acting director David Couch responded that the group was honored “to be associated with Dr. Cathey.”

“He has decades of experience as a neurosurgeon, and we believe leadership from a physician is important for an association focused on best practices within the medical marijuana industry,” Couch said. “However, if his position on the board presents any perceived conflicts, we know he will act appropriately.”

However, State Medical Board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer responded in a phone call with Talk Business & Politics that Dr. Cathey would not be a part of the new medical cannabis industry group.

“He is not serving on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association board,” O’Dwyer said emphatically. “They approached him, but he declined to be a member of it. His involvement with the State Medical Board would present conflicts of interest, so he has declined involvement in that association.”

O’Dwyer added that he contacted Dr. Cathey concerning AMMA’s announcement earlier in the week that he was serving on the board of the new trade group, but the North Little Rock physician responded that he was not aware that he would be listed as one of the directors.

“I don’t know where all that information came from, but he has never met with anybody in that organization, never attended a meeting, and obviously as a physician he is interested in how medical marijuana use is going to be implemented in Arkansas, and that is why I think they were approaching him, but he has declined any involvement,” O’Dwyer said.

A person answering the phone at Dr. Cathey’s office told Talk Business & Politics he was out of town until next week. The North Little Rock physician was appointed to the State Medical Board in January 2011 by former Gov. Mike Beebe. His term as chairman expires on Dec. 31, 2022.

UPDATE

Dr. Steven Cathey contacted Talk Business & Politics on Friday afternoon and said there was obviously some miscommunication between himself and the AMMA and State Medical Board about his potential role with the group. He said he was first approached by Couch to serve as a consultant or director in relationship to the business and corporations involved in the medical marijuana industry, but declined the offer.

“It was my belief, and it is still my belief, that this new industry needs a clinician’s voice and input, and physicians will be heavily involved in the acquisition process for patients who are seeking medicinal marijuana cards. I think doctors need to be at the table when we consider medical and regulatory issues surrounding this new industry,” he said.

Cathey continued: “Where things changed for me was after I started reviewing my role as the state (Medical Board) chairman, I was fearful there would be a conflict of interest and in my opinion even a perception of conflict of interest would be inappropriate – so I declined to participate. That was pretty much the bottom line.”

A BOARD HISTORY

Although Arkansas voters approved the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in November, Gov. Hutchinson actively campaigned against the referendum and pushed the legislature during the 2017 session to develop “a responsible implementation plan” that met the needs of patients while protecting the public and assuring public safety.

The state Medical Board is charged by the General Assembly to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Arkansas and TO provide the highest quality healthcare. It was established by the Medical Practices Act of 1955 and Act 289 of 1957 from which the board is empowered to license and regulate the practice of medicine.

In 1971, the Arkansas Osteopathic Board was abolished and the Arkansas State Medical Board assumed its licensing and regulatory duties. Since then, it has assumed the licensing regulatory responsibilities for other allied health professions, including occupational and respiratory therapists, physician assistants and radiologist assistants.

The board consists of fourteen members appointed by the governor for six-year terms. Ten members, appointed upon the recommendation of the Arkansas Medical Society, are duly qualified, licensed and active medical practitioners. Two members are appointed from each of the four congressional districts and two members are appointed at large.

Earlier Wednesday, Couch said part of the mission of the new trade group is to ensure state officials abide by the amendment structure as approved by voters. Arkansas voters approved of Amendment 98 in 2016 by a 53%-47% margin.

“Arkansas voters made clear that they want sensible, safe medical marijuana policy in this state, because they recognize the clear evidence that cannabinoids are effective in pain relief and treating a number of chronic illnesses,” Couch said. “Our association will be a partnership of all those with a common interest in ensuring the state stays true to the will of the voters and medical marijuana operations are run safely and legally.”

The new industry trade group includes several political, legal and industry experts who will serve on the group’s board of directors. Couch, a Little Rock attorney who is on the boards of the Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents and the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, authored Amendment 98 to legalize medical marijuana and directed the statewide campaign to pass the constitutional amendment.

McDaniel, partner at the Little Rock law firm McDaniel, Richardson and Calhoun, served two terms as Arkansas Attorney General and served a stint in the state legislature, including chair of the Joint Committee on Health Insurance and Prescription Drugs.

The board also includes Pine Bluff native Stephen LaFrance, former executive vice president of Arkansas-based USA Drug. LaFrance’s namesake father, a member of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, founded Arkansas drug store chains that was the nation’s largest privately-owned pharmacy chain when it sold its 157 pharmacies to Walgreens in 1992 for $438 million.

Other members of the AMMA board include Dan Roda, general counsel and development lead at Rock Capital Group; Kris Krane, president of Phoenix-based 4Front Ventures, a holding company with subsidiaries that have developed operating standards for retail medical marijuana dispensaries; and Dr. Richard Douglas, managing partner at PMK Associates, a Virginia-based marketing and communications firm.

AMMA’s website should be operational within the next two weeks. Getting a board in place was the first step for the group, and the next effort will be to hire a full-time executive director and support staff as needed, officials said. Medical marijuana cultivators and distributors are eligible for full AMMA membership, and associate memberships are available to industry-related businesses and organizations.

Now that AMMA is up and running, there is also likely to be some confusion by some consumers over the similarly named Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (AMMC), the independent state body created under Amendment 98 that is tasked with administering and regulating the issuance of licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities. That five-person board is led by Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, a Little Rock physician appointed by Gov. Hutchinson.

The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA), formed by Fort Smith-based developer Storm Nolan, was the first industry formed to represented the cannabis trade in Arkansas.

KUAR: Second Arkansas Medical Marijuana Industry Group Formed

Click here to read the full story at KUAR.

A new pro-medical marijuana association has been formed that includes as board members a former Arkansas attorney general and the author of the amendment that brought medical marijuana to the state. It is the second association claiming to represent the state’s upstart medical marijuana industry.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association announced Wednesday it will be the “leading voice for medical marijuana cultivators, distributors and businesses that serve the industry in the Natural State.” The media notice said the group also will be a lobbyist for the industry, educate those in the industry on “best practices,” and work to educate the public about the industry and “the safe use of the drug for medicinal purposes.”

David Couch
CREDIT TWITTER.COM

David Couch, acting executive director and one of seven board members with the new association, said part of the mission is to ensure state officials abide by the amendment structure as approved by voters. Arkansas voters approved of Amendment 98 in 2016 by a 53%-47% margin.

“Arkansas voters made clear that they want sensible, safe medical marijuana policy in this state, because they recognize the clear evidence that cannabinoids are effective in pain relief and treating a number of chronic illnesses,” Couch said. “Our association will be a partnership of all those with a common interest in ensuring the state stays true to the will of the voters and medical marijuana operations are run safely and legally.”

A full website should be operational within the next two weeks. Getting a board in place was the first step for the group, and the next effort will be to hire a full-time executive director and support staff as needed. Medical marijuana cultivators and distributors are eligible for full AMMA membership, and associate memberships are available to industry-related businesses and organizations.

BOARD MEMBERS
Following are the AMMA board members.

• Dr. Steven Cathey, chairman, a neurosurgeon and chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board
Cathey, of Little Rock, is board certified in neurological surgery and was initially appointed to the state Medical Board in 2011. He became the board’s chairman this year. A native of Monticello, Cathey has been practicing for more than 35 years.

• Couch, partner at David A. Couch, PLLC.
Couch authored Amendment 98 to legalize medical marijuana and directed the statewide campaign to pass the constitutional amendment. In addition to his work in the medical marijuana industry, Couch has established himself as one of the top legal advocates for elder Arkansans and is a member of the Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents and the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform in Washington, D.C. where he served on the board of directors for several years. Couch is a native of Newport and a life-long Arkansan.

• Dr. Richard Douglas, managing partner at PMK Associates, a Virginia-based marketing and communications firm
Douglas is a former assistant deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan and member of President George H.W. Bush’s Export Advisory Council and was senior vice president for corporate affairs for Sun Diamond Growers of California.

• Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a holding company with subsidiaries that have developed operating standards for retail medical marijuana dispensaries
Before forming 4Front, Krane was director of client services for CannBe. He is on the boards of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the National Cannabis Industry Association, Marijuana Majority, and Common Sense for Drug Policy.

• Stephen LaFrance, former executive vice president of Arkansas-based USA Drug
USA Drug was the nation’s largest privately-owned pharmacy chain when it sold its 157 pharmacies to Walgreens in 1992. LaFrance, of Little Rock, is principal officer and owner of Dale Capital Partners Inc. A Pine Bluff native, LaFrance is a founding investor and board member of Greenwoods State Bank of Lake Mills, Wis., and is the founder of the Arkansas Junior Tennis Foundation.

• Dustin McDaniel, partner at the Little Rock law firm McDaniel, Richardson and Calhoun, and a former two-term Arkansas Attorney General
As a legislator, he was chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Insurance and Prescription Drugs. McDaniel began his career as a police officer in his hometown of Jonesboro. As co-chairman of the national Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE), McDaniel continues to work to protect the interests of children and families.

• Dan Roda, general counsel and development lead at Rock Capital Group
Roda provides legal and consulting services to start-ups, private individuals, and closely-held companies on matters including corporate and securities law, mergers and acquisitions, cannabis industry regulation, and estate and tax planning.

THE OTHER INDUSTRY GROUP
The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA) was formed by Fort Smith-based developer Storm Nolan. The ACIA is “a cannabis industry trade association advocating for laws, regulations and public policies that foster a healthy, professional and accountable medical cannabis industry in our state,” noted the ACIA website.

The ACIA pushes its advocacy in three ways: Education; Protecting patients; and Advocating for the industry. In recent weeks the ACIA has touted its “doctor locator” page for those needing a certificate to apply for a medical marijuana patient card. The Arkansas Department of Health began accepting applications for medical marijuana registry identification cards on June 30. As of Aug. 4, there were 404 Arkansans with a medical marijuana patient card.

“The ACIA welcomes anyone who wants to educate patients and future industry participants. We’ve already put on many seminars geared towards patients, healthcare professionals, and industry applicants – and we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of attendees at these events,” Nolan told Talk Business & Politics.

Nolan said the ACIA monitored legislation during the recent Arkansas General Assembly, and “also helped fight against the negative legislation such as the smoking ban, edible ban, and delay until federally legal.”

“We have many events coming up geared towards patients, healthcare professionals, and the industry. We even have an expo scheduled in December at the Statehouse Convention Center,” Nolan said. “Point is, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort helping to make sure the medical cannabis industry is setup correctly for patients and industry participants, and we’ll continue to do so.”