Marijuana Venture: Marijuana business license hopeful leads Arkansas trade association

Read the full story at Marijuana Venture.

While many traditionally conservative states have struggled to implement sensible marijuana laws, Arkansas appears to be moving along at a steady pace following the state’s voter-approved legalization of medical cannabis in 2016.

As of mid-September, the state had received 19 applications for five available cultivation licenses and 51 applications for 32 dispensaries. Among the hopeful applicants is Storm Nolan, a successful real estate entrepreneur and president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, which he helped start back in February.

Because of the state’s deeply conservative roots, Nolan says he never foresaw legal cannabis coming to Arkansas. The idea of cannabis as an alternative to opiates strikes a personal chord with Nolan, whose mother died of complications from an opioid addiction several years ago. It’s part of what inspired him to get involved in the cannabis industry and to fight for rules and regulations that are both patient- and industry-friendly.

Nolan is a partner at CSK Hotels, a commercial real estate investment firm that has about 200 employees and has completed 15 hotel projects since its inception. He’s also a partner in River Valley Relief, which recently submitted applications for both cultivation and dispensary licenses.

The ACIA has not yet rolled out a fee-based membership. So far, it’s been financed through ancillary businesses that have allowed the organization to hire employees and host educational events.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, especially in physician education,” Nolan says. “We’re constantly planning events with the goal of educating doctors, educating patients and educating people who want to get into the industry.”

Because medical marijuana is so new to Arkansas — and the region in general — patients have been asking a ton of questions, from how to get their medical cards and how to find certifying doctors to questions about gun ownership and hunting licenses.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Nolan says, “so we’re just doing our part to give people accurate info.”

As of the latest count, more than 1,100 patients have received medical cannabis cards — a good number considering product likely won’t hit dispensary shelves until at least May, Nolan says. In the meantime, license applicants are in wait-and-see mode, giving the ACIA time to focus its advocacy efforts on goals such as lower application fees, extending expiration dates for medical cards and reducing regulations on businesses so lower prices can be passed on to patients.

“Arkansas was definitely cognizant of trying to find out which states were doing this best and borrow their ideas,” Nolan says. “We’re not trying to ignore everybody else and reinvent the wheel here.”

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Marijuana Venture, on sale now. 

KUAR: Marijuana Expo Brings Together Seniors, Veterans, Scientists, Sons Of Arkansas

Read the full story at KUAR, Little Rock’s NPR affiliate.

Bill Essert hasn’t lived in Arkansas in years. He’s a businessman for an agriculture technology company in Cotati, California — BioTherm.

“What we do, we’re showing two things, the O2 Tube, which is all about dissolved oxygen and enhancing the amount of dissolved oxygen by infusing oxygen into your irrigation water, and the benefits of this is enhancing growth, plant growth, higher yields, less fungus and more yield for the amount of bud as well as higher levels of THC.”

His parents still do, though. Live in Arkansas, that is — Conway.

It’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving but the Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo that’s brought this son of Arkansas back. The two-day trade show for the marijuana industry called forward scientists (both horticultural and chemical), food makers, marketers, engineers and security personnel.

Marine sergeants Ryan Hansen and Jonathan Reeves started Liberty Defense Group, LLC, in Fayetteville earlier this year just to get in on the fresh market.

“We both have backgrounds from the military, both marines, have seven deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan between the two of us,” Hansen says.

“We saw an opportunity in this new fledgling business to start a security company and reintroduce vets from the war back, kind of a transition, back into the civilian world. So, we’re not only trying to start a business in the cannabis industry but also gearing it toward veterans: veteran owned, veteran staffed.”

Nearby is a sales representative in a lab coat, Derek Selvidge of Searcy.

“Shimadzu, we are a scientific instrumentation company that tests to make sure the product is safe. So, like, your pesticides, your potency, heavy metals, residual solvents — all those things required by the state of Arkansas, our instrumentation will test for them.”

Then there’s Lisa High who legally changed her last name to more completely transition to the nom de guerre, Green Life Granny. She’s an activist who, along with her partner James Priest, want to start a YouTube medical cannabis talk show called The High Priest.

James Priest and Mary High (center) are planning to premiere a YouTube talk show about marijuana called The High Priest.
CREDIT BOBBY AMPEZZAN / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

“I’m here to take the scary out of the Mary, for people my age especially,” she says.

High lives in Pittsburgh, Kansas, but maintains a residence in Colorado expressly to acquire legal cannabis. As soon as the state of Arkansas rolls out its medical marijuana program she’s going to move to Benton County because the distance between Pittsburgh and Bella Vista is but 80 miles.

“Us grandmas and grandpas, we’re going to be the change-makers in this movement because it’s time.”

The expo was sponsored by Weedmaps, an online and mobile platform service (not unlike the Starbucks locator app) that shows users where the nearest marijuana dispensary is located.

Organizers claim the trade show sold 500 tickets and reserved 50 booths for businesses from Little Rock to California.

Derek Selvidge of Searcy and Jorge Smith man the Shimadzu booth.
CREDIT BOBBY AMPEZZAN / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

Asked about the difference in cultures, Essert, with California-based BioTherm, says Arkansas is slower to change. “Holder-ons,” he calls folks here, “of the old-school way of thinking,” but farming is such a large part of the marijuana industry “I think it won’t take a whole lot of development of the ag mentality to help them grow cannabis. It’s a weed after all.”

Selvidge of Searcy says, old school or not, Arkansas is showing amazing foresight on marijuana.

“We’re like the leaders in the South! We’re not the ones who came on later,” he says. “Usually, I mean, I live here, I live in Searcy, I’m from Arkansas. I love this state. But usually Texas wins, you know?”

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What’s that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We’re funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

ArkansasOnline: Business convention goes to pot; marijuana-tied entrepreneurs stop in Little Rock ahead of new law

Read the full story at ArkansasOnline.

Two tables of bongs, pipes and other marijuana paraphernalia drew a steady line of curious consumers Wednesday morning at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

“Do you smoke marijuana? What’s your favorite way to smoke it?” Marc Wein of Mama P’s Wholesome Grinding Co. in Spicewood, Texas, asked nearly every person filing by his booth during the opening hours of Arkansas’ first convention dedicated to medical marijuana.

“We’re a 12-time winner of High Times‘ Cannabis Cup for smoking accessories and the only truly American-made accessory manufacturer in the U.S.,” the tie-dye-wearing Wein added in a rapid-fire burst of words.

Across the convention hall, representatives of Edibles magazine touted the publication along with an assortment of cannabis-related gummy rings and trail mix while two Conway men nearby solicited members for their newly formed Arkansas Hemp Association.

Those vendors joined about four dozen others as part of the Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo. The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association is sponsoring the two-day event to bring businesses and potential consumers together as the state edges closer to implementing a medical-marijuana program approved by voters in November 2016.

Under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, the state will license 32 dispensaries and five cultivation facilities. The five cultivators — out of 95 applicants — will be announced Feb. 27. The state received 227 applications for the dispensaries, and the winners of those licenses likely won’t be announced until late April.

Some two dozen speakers were lined up by the event’s organizer, Imperious Expo of Tyler, Texas, to speak individually or as part of guest panels on such topics as high-tech security for cultivators and dispensaries; marketing; cannabis research, and the latest on federal laws’ clash with the 29 states that have approved medical marijuana, recreational marijuana or both.

The convention ends today about 5 p.m.

Back at Mama P’s, Jody Hardin of Hardin Farms in Lincoln County, stepped up to make a purchase but lamented that he lacked $25 in cash.

“We take cards,” Wein replied, making the sale.

Hardin said he will be the “head grower” for Clinice, a Fayetteville consortium of investors, if the group’s application for a cultivation facility is approved.

Hardin said he’s always been a supporter of the “freedom to farm,” including marijuana and anything else a farmer wants to grow. “This is a special issue to me, to farm and to help people who are helped by medical marijuana,” Hardin said.

“I don’t want to see corporate giants getting a monopoly [on cultivation],” he said, while acknowledging that his group has some fairly deep pockets, too.

A few booths down, Kyle Felling of Greenbrier touted his company, F.A.S.T. Laboratories/Research, as way to help assure medical-marijuana patients they’re getting the quality they paid for.

To gear up for the nascent medical-marijuana trade in Arkansas, Felling said, he recently made trips to several “head shops” in central Arkansas, buying up various cannabis-based ointments and oils. Back at his Greenbrier lab, he tested whether the products’ labels matched up with their actual levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis compound that provides the “high” within marijuana, or cannabidiol (CBD), a compound with medicinal effects without the physical effects.

“I just wanted to hash our process and get prepared for what’s coming in the next few months,” Felling said, adding he’s hoping to win contracts with growers for his tests of their plants.

Of about 50 tests, he found eight products that had no cannabidiol at all. “People were paying up to $50 for small bottles of vegetable oil, pretty much,” Felling said. Several others fell short by 25 percent to 50 percent.

He informed the retail outlets of his test results by email. Some didn’t respond. “Some were genuinely concerned that they weren’t getting a good product,” he said.

Around the corner, Jon Workman of England, in Lonoke County, was manning a booth for American Cannabis Co., a consulting firm in Denver founded by a high school classmate. The company will have an office in Arkansas.

Workman, 54, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and doctors gave him three years to live. That was 19 years ago.

While marijuana didn’t exactly save his life, it made him less nauseated and gave him an appetite. Now, medical marijuana has given Workman, who until last year worked at the all-but-closed Southwind Milling Co. in Pine Bluff, a second career as well.

“I’m looking around here, thinking is this really legal?” Workman said, gesturing with a smile at nearby booths with signs like Weed Management, Ounce magazine and The Cannabis Marketing Lab. “And I know that it’s not just legal, but it’s really going to help people. It’s a life-changing event.”

Business on 12/07/2017

Print Headline: Business convention goes to pot; Marijuana-tied entrepreneurs stop in LR ahead of new law

Arkansas Matters: Medical Cannabis Trade Show Held In LR, Industry Opportunities Emerge

Read the full story at Arkansas Matters.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The medical cannabis industry in Arkansas is rolling along.

The first ever marijuana trade show was held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

It’s more than just about the dispensaries and cultivation facilities, other industry are emerging. It’s all having an impact on the state’s bottom line.

Ryan Hansen is at his booth at the cannabis business expo answering questions and making contacts. He and his business partners created Liberty Defense Group, a security company, after medical marijuana passed in Arkansas.

“We want to be on the ground floor of an emerging industry,” Hansen said.

The business model the former Marines has, is something a bit different. They are hiring veterans and want to provide them with opportunities.

“We not only want to break into the cannabis industry as far as security goes, but we want to have a transitional place for veterans to come back and join our company,” Hansen said.

They are just one of several vendors at the trade show held at the Statehouse Convention Center.

“We have dozens of businesses that support the industry,” Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association board member Corey Hunt said.

Not necessary working with the plant, but around the production.

“From top to bottom, there’s a lot of people that support this industry,” Hunt said.

As it soon becomes a reality, the state says the economic impact as a whole is yet to be seen.

“There’s so many different ways that someone could get involved in this industry,” DF&A spokesperson Scott Hardin said.

The state anticipates it’s in the tens of millions of dollars.

“I think once we’re up and running, maybe a year from now, we’ll be able to look at this and say, ‘this is what we’re looking at and the number of people that are employed directly and indirectly,'” Hardin said.

Until then, Liberty Defense Group will fight the battle to break into the biz.

THV 11: Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo comes to Little Rock

Read the full story at CBS THV 11.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (November 5, 2017) — The cannabis industry is coming to the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Wednesday for the state’s first-ever cannabis trade show.

The Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo, hosted by Imperious Expo + Directory and the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, will promote the medical and industrial benefits of a legal cannabis industry with a strong emphasis on the business sector, connecting businesses in this up-and-coming market.

Representatives from all areas of the cannabis industry will be in attendance, from cultivation, production, dispensaries and testing, to security, marketing, and media outlets. Top flight speakers will help attendees take home critical information they can put to work to build business and profits.

“We have brought leaders from the medical cannabis industry to Arkansas to share how they’ve had success in other states,” said Corey Hunt, Board member of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association. The show is open to the public as well as the business to business (B2B) world.

“The Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo is dedicated to creating and enhancing lifelong partnerships within the emerging cannabis industry,” said Eric Norton, Founder of Imperious Expo. “It is our objective to provide a professional venue for cannabis businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and community partners to showcase industry products, people and innovations and to cultivate business values within the cannabis industry through education and responsible community involvement.”

Storm Nolan, President of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, is enthusiastic about the partnership with Imperious Expo.

“Imperious has a good track record of conducting successful industry events in other states, and we’re glad that he’s chosen Arkansas as the location of his next expo covering Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas – states that are now just forming their medical cannabis programs. We expect many great speakers and presenters to be on hand to help educate those entering the cannabis industry, and we think education is the best way to make sure that the cannabis industry in Arkansas is successful.”

The expo will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on December 6 and 7.

The entry fee for both days and the Weedmaps-sponsored after-party at the Rev Room is $50 at the door. Pre-registration online with promo code “ACIA2017” gets you 50 percent off.

Log Cabin Democrat: Cannabis Expo expects high turnout

Read the full article at the Log Cabin Democrat.

Arkansas’ first-ever cannibas trade show had such an overwhelming response, the after party had to move to a bigger venue.

The Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo, hosted by perious Expo + Directory and the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, will promote the medical and industrial benefits of a legal cannabis industry with a strong emphasis on the business sector, connecting businesses in this up-and-coming market. It takes place Wednesday and Thursday in the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Admission is $50 at the door, which gets you a ticket to attend the event both days as well as the after party from 7-11 p.m. Wednesday at the Revolution Music Room, two blocks from the Expo.

Representatives from all areas of the cannabis industry will be in attendance — from cultivation, production, dispensaries and testing to security, marketing and media outlets.

Top flight speakers will help attendees take home critical information they can put to work to build business and profits.

“We have brought leaders from the medical cannabis industry to Arkansas to share how they’ve had success in other states,” Corey Hunt, Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association board member, said.

Founder of Imperious Expo Eric Norton said: “The Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo is dedicated to creating and enhancing lifelong partnerships within the emerging cannabis industry. It is our objective to provide a professional venue for cannabis businesses, entrepreneurs, investors and community partners to showcase industry products, people and innovations and to cultivate business values within the cannabis industry through education and responsible community involvement.”

Storm Nolan, President of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said she is enthusiastic about the partnership with Imperious Expo.

“Imperious has a good track record of conducting successful industry events in other states, and we’re glad that he’s chosen Arkansas as the location of his next expo covering Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas – states that are now just forming their medical cannabis programs.

“We expect many great speakers and presenters to be on hand to help educate those entering the cannabis industry, and we think education is the best way to make sure that the cannabis industry in Arkansas is successful.”