Arkansas Times: Arkansas joint ventures

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Arkansas joint ventures

With dispensary and cultivation applications pending, hundreds of Arkansas entrepreneurs are sitting on go for a medical cannabis gold rush. How will it pan out?

STORM NOLAN: The head of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Industry Association predicts 500 growing and dispensary jobs.

There are several decades of data to suggest that the coming of medical cannabis to Arkansas will bring relief from pain and freedom from over-reliance on dangerous opiates to residents suffering from some of the most debilitating and life-threatening diseases known to medicine. It’s anybody’s guess, however, how the dollars-and-cents side of things will gel up, as dispensary and cultivation licenses are awarded and ancillary businesses like delivery services and testing labs boot. Like it or not, medicine is a business, and that includes medical cannabis.

What is known is that a lot of people are looking to get involved. Though the application process had been open since June 30, most of those seeking a license to operate one of the state’s 32 dispensaries and five grow centers waited until the Sept. 18 deadline to apply. When they did, the paperwork came at the state in an avalanche: 322 applications, most of them highly detailed and routinely over 1,000 pages long. Some prospective retailers and growers waited overnight outside the offices of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in lawn chairs, camped out like they were waiting for concert tickets, so they could be the first to drop off their papers on deadline day. Each dispensary applicant paid $7,500 just to apply. Potential cultivators paid $15,000. Of those fees, half the money will be refunded if the application is rejected. The state now suggests it may be spring before it can work through the often-gargantuan applications and decide who gets a spot in the vanguard of the state’s green gold rush.

All applicants can do is wait and hope. Seeking to get their business plans as concrete as possible so as to wow the state’s minty new Medical Marijuana Commission, the applicants already have big-ticket items like real estate and key personnel locked down and waiting out in the state. Many we talked to are sitting on piles of cash, waiting for a phone call from the MMC, which may or may not come, so they can pull the trigger on equipment purchases and new hires

Those who have studied medical cannabis rollouts in other states — as well as the often treacherous labyrinth of banking and taxation pitfalls that come with growing and selling a substance still considered an illegal narcotic by the federal government — caution that the start-up years may not bring the flood of new jobs and quick fortunes many may have envisioned. That doesn’t seem to be stopping entrepreneurs from trying to get in on the ground floor, however.

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Storm Nolan is the president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, which was established in March. It’s one of two medical cannabis trade groups in the state; the other is the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association. On Dec. 6-7, the ACIA will host the region’s first cannabis-related trade show, bringing speakers on medical cannabis and over 50 businesses that serve all areas of the industry to Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center.

Nolan said his group has fielded “a deluge” of questions from both patients and would-be entrepreneurs so far, especially since the application period ended. Until the Medical Marijuana Commission makes its decisions, however, answers are scarce. “Now it’s kind of hurry up and wait,” Nolan said. “Everyone who applied for those is just kind of sitting around with the real estate tied down, and are just anxious to hear back early next year about how the commissioners graded everybody.”

Nolan said his group estimates there will be 500 new jobs in the state directly related to the cultivation and dispensaries pretty much as soon as licenses are awarded. It’s a number he expects to grow exponentially from there, in addition to hires for related businesses like delivery companies, potency testing labs, cannabis-focused law and accounting firms, security firms and the like. “For Arkansas, that’s going to grow into a fair little industry,” Nolan said.

One of the primary goals of his organization, Nolan said, is educating those looking to get involved. That has included educating Arkansans on a major potential stumbling block: the Internal Revenue Service’s Section 280e. Enacted in 1982 to help convict high-volume cocaine dealers in federal court, 280e, in a nutshell, says that those directly involved in the creation and selling of narcotics, including marijuana, even if it’s legal in their state, may only deduct from their federal taxes the “cost of goods sold” — solely those expenses directly incurred while creating the product. Cultivators, Nolan said, won’t be hit as hard by 280e, because they’ll be able to deduct expenses like water, seed, fertilizer and the like. But dispensary owners can deduct almost nothing when tax time rolls around, including most of the cost of staff, brick-and-mortar storefronts, warehouse space, all the way down to printer paper, paperclips and pens.

“For dispensaries, much less percentage of their expenses can be attributed to cost of goods sold,” Nolan said. “That’s where it really hits. Even if on paper you’re showing $100,000 profit, that doesn’t mean you still don’t have a tax bill on top of that.” Though 280e doesn’t apply to ancillary businesses like delivery services or doctors who certify that patients have a condition that allows them to purchase medical cannabis, this very expensive regulatory quirk has caused many dispensary and dispensary related businesses to fail in other states, the owners socked with a huge tax bill they can’t pay.

“People will get excited about owning a dispensary and starting a dispensary,” Nolan said, “then 280e is just one of those kind of coming-to-reality moments. You realize that, sure, there’s probably going to be a lot of revenue there. But when you cover all your expenses and then on top of that have additional income taxes that you can’t deduct, it just makes being profitable that much harder.”

One of those hoping to avoid the pitfalls involved in getting in on the ground floor of medical cannabis in Arkansas is Corey Hunt. The co-founder of a group called Natural State Healthcare, which has applied for a dispensary license, Hunt came to Arkansas from Oklahoma in 2007 to help expand his family’s cell phone repair business in the state. He started looking into cannabis as medicine in 2013, when his girlfriend’s mother died of breast cancer. Eventually, he took a trip to Colorado and met with patients being helped by cannabis treatments.

“I met a little 4-year-old kid who was taking cannabis oil, and it was treating his cancer. I started meeting other patients — patients with PTSD, little kids who were having hundreds of seizures a day and then they didn’t have seizures any moreafter taking cannabis oil. I said, ‘Something has to be done about this.’ ”

Soon after returning from Colorado, Hunt started a website and Facebook group called “Illegally Healed.” The Illegally Healed Facebook group is now the biggest cannabis patient-focused group on the social media site, with over 400,000 likes. There and at Hunt’s website, he publishes interviews and short video content about medical cannabis. This month, Hunt also launched a new print magazine called Ounce, which will focus on medical cannabis in Arkansas.

Read the full story at Arkansas Times.

Channel 5 News: Many Wait Until Deadline Day To Turn In Medical Marijuana Cultivation, Dispensary Applications

Read the full article at KFSM Channel 5 News.

While the number of applications are still being counted, nearly 200 cultivation and dispensary applications were made on deadline day (Sept. 18), bringing the total number of applications combined to 275.

“I expected it would be like this because there was no incentive to turn in the applications earlier,” said David Couch, executive director of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association.

In the end, there will only be five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries across the state. Couch expects medical marijuana to be available to patients no later than June 1, 2018. It could be as early as mid-March.

Storm Nolan and his brother Kane Whitt turned in their application on Thursday (Sept. 14). They’re hoping to transform a vacant warehouse on E. Street in downtown Fort Smith into one of the first cultivation centers in Arkansas.

“A lot of work went into it,” Nolan said.

Not only are they wanting to use the 83,000 sq. ft. space for growing medical marijuana and processing it into various products, they also applied to open a dispensary.

“Our proposed dispensary is just south of Zero Street near Rheem,” Nolan said.

ArkansasOnline: Medical marijuana business in Arkansas worries banks

Read the full article at ArkansasOnline.

The medical marijuana business in Arkansas will not be cash only, as feared by opponents during last year’s campaign for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

But banking services for the business will be expensive, secretive and legally dubious, according to representatives of the financial industry.

Right now, medical marijuana banking is tentatively allowed under guidance from federal regulators. According to federal figures, 368 banks and credit unions were serving the industry nationally in March, an increase of 63 from a year prior.

“The fact is that the legalization in Arkansas is not a defense for nor a cover for the legality by the federal laws, and all banks — whether they’re state chartered, nationally chartered or anything else — are under the federal laws and regulations,” said Bill Holmes, president of the Arkansas Bankers Association.

“I’m not on a side for or against medical marijuana, but I understand why folks are concerned when you look at the problems that have arisen in some of the other states. It is a cash business at this point. With what we’ve had in Little Rock, let’s be honest, do you want to inflame that and have cars driving around with bags full of $100 bills? I don’t think so.”

Holmes said bankers want to see Congress pass a law allowing banks to serve the medical marijuana industry but added that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

U.S. Rep. French Hill, a Republican who represents central Arkansas and serves as majority whip on the House Committee on Financial Services, said in an interview that he was no fan of marijuana legalization, but he would like federal lawmakers to study the matter of banking for the industry.

“You’ve got all these hybrid states that are collecting funds that are in some states like California, finding ways into the financial system through certain unnamed credit unions, but that’s obviously not an ideal way to do it,” said Hill, a former banker.. “So, I’ve urged hearings on this. People at the federal level are not going to just — in an unstudied way — deal with this.”

A total of 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Congress has prohibited the Department of Justice from spending any money on enforcement to prevent the implementation of state laws that allow medical marijuana.

Both Storm Nolan, president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, and David Couch, the Little Rock lawyer who sponsored the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment that was approved by voters in November, said at least one bank has committed to serving the industry in the state, though they declined to name any institutions.

Jason Martin, chief executive officer of Natural State of Kind, said he has worked with financial institutions in other states. His business, which plans to open both a cultivation facility and dispensary if granted licenses, became the first applicant to go public in an announcement on Thursday.

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.

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

ArkansasOnline: Two Arkansas cities order medical-marijuana moratoriums; temporary bans raise legal questions

Read the full Article from ArkansasOnline.

Two Arkansas cities have imposed months-long bans on medical-marijuana facilities, a test of local control as prospective growers and sellers prepare to vie for state licenses beginning June 30.

Siloam Springs’ Board of Directors on Tuesday adopted a 180-day moratorium on medical-pot businesses with a unanimous vote that came two weeks after Hot Springs city directors passed a similarly worded 90-day ban.

The cities’ decisions to not offer local business licenses to dispensaries and cultivation facilities could reverberate for longer than their bans because potential businesses have just 90 days to apply for a limited number of state licenses. Siloam Springs’ moratorium would extend well beyond the state’s Sept. 18 deadline to submit applications.

“That really takes that whole city out of contention, doesn’t it,” Storm Nolan, co-founder of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said of the Northwest Arkansas border city.

The voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment says that local governments cannot prohibit marijuana growers and distributors from operating in their jurisdiction unless voters approve a ballot issue to keep them out.

“We are not prohibiting it,” Siloam Springs City Administrator Phillip Patterson said. “We have created a stay for a period of time. Cities have historically had a right to put a stay on certain uses in order for the city to review its code, update its code or adopt its code.”

Mark Hayes, director of legal services for the Arkansas Municipal League, said both cities are his clients and that neither previously spoke with him about temporary bans. He said he learned of the action this week and couldn’t comment on whether their moratoriums might violate the state constitution.

“I am in the process of consulting with them about this very thing,” Hayes said. “The only real comment that I can make is, generally speaking, moratoriums in Arkansas law are not disfavored.”

David Couch, the Little Rock lawyer who sponsored the constitutional amendment, was out of the country and not available for a telephone interview Thursday but said in a statement that the amendment is “clear as a bell.”

“The amendment provides that by initiative people can prevent dispensaries and cultivation facilities,” Couch said. “The amendment also provides for zoning same as pharmacy so any other restrictions are unconstitutional. … I’ll bring suit against any city or county that does not comply with [the] amendment.”

An estimated 30,000 Arkansans — or about 1 in 100 residents — are expected to apply for medical-marijuana registration cards in the first year, said Meg Mirivel, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, which will issue cards to qualifying patients in exchange for a $50 fee and a doctor’s note.

The Medical Marijuana Commission will license up to 32 dispensaries in Arkansas — as many as four in each of eight geographic regions — and up to five growing facilities across the state.

Although Hot Springs and Siloam Springs have temporary bans on businesses, their residents can obtain medical-marijuana cards and buy cannabis outside of city limits.

Language in both moratoriums say state rules and regulations about dispensaries and cultivation facilities were not yet finalized, though that was not the case for the Siloam Springs resolution.

State Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Jake Bleed said the rules were finalized June 16, four days before the city board passed the measure. Emergency rules were in place since May 5, Bleed said.

“Our rules are final,” Bleed said, noting that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed. “We could go through rule-making process again in the future.”

Generally, two laws govern where dispensaries and cultivation facilities can function. One requires a buffer zone around schools and churches. The other bans cities from imposing stricter placement requirements on medical-marijuana facilities than they do on traditional pharmacies.

Siloam Springs and Hot Springs are the only Arkansas cities and towns known to issue moratoriums, Hayes of the Municipal League said.

Siloam Springs’ Patterson said he didn’t want to comment on what open questions he had about the rules because he hadn’t read the finalized version.

“I have looked at the published versions, yes, but I will reserve any comment [until the final rules are published],” Patterson said, adding that the city would need time after the rules were finalized to determine whether and how to amend its land-use law.

Section 14 of the constitutional amendment does not prohibit cities “from creating reasonable zoning regulations applicable to dispensaries or cultivation facilities,” as long as the regulations are the same as those in place for licensed retail pharmacies.

However, it says, “this section does not allow a city, incorporated town, or county to prohibit the operation of dispensaries or cultivation facilities in the city, incorporated town, or county unless such a prohibition is approved at an election. …”

Of 1.1 million voters statewide in November, 53 percent supported amending the state constitution to allow medical use of marijuana.

Siloam Springs, which abuts the Oklahoma state line and is home to 16,000 residents, narrowly opposed the initiative, with 2,742 voters against (52 percent) and 2,514 in favor, City Attorney Jay Williams said in a report to city directors.

The city’s resolution says that operators who acquire state Medical Marijuana Commission licenses to operate in Siloam Springs will not be grandfathered into current zoning restrictions.

“Any person who purchases, erects or maintains any marijuana or marijuana-related activity during the regulatory exclusion will do so understanding the risk of being subject to enforcement,” the resolution says. “Cultivation and/or … distribution prior to the moratorium’s expiration … will neither acquire ‘nonconforming’ nor ‘grandfather’ status.”

Hot Springs, home to nearly 36,000 residents, anchors Garland County, where 53 percent of about 40,000 voters supported the initiative.

A Hot Springs spokesman said City Attorney Brian Albright recommended the moratorium, which city directors unanimously passed by ordinance. Albright, who was at a conference Thursday, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Siloam Springs City Director Brad Burns, who supports medical marijuana, voted in favor of the moratorium. He likened the action to similar temporary bans on breweries after the city transitioned from “dry” to “wet” and a moratorium on mobile homes the city also passed Tuesday.

Burns said he expects the city’s residents will propose a referendum to ban marijuana business in early 2018.

“Even though I believe in medical cannabis and the benefits of it, we need to figure out the regulation,” Burns said. “At the end of the day, I work for the citizen. I’ve got to represent the collective. I’m not going to sit here and beat on a dead drum.”

Information for this article was contributed by Brian Fanney of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Print Headline: Two cities order medical-pot moratoriums; Temporary business bans in Siloam Springs, Hot Springs raise legal questions

Arkansas Medical Cannabis With a Mission

Our company, CSK hotels, a family business based in Fort Smith with roots in our community since 1980, will apply for cultivation facility and dispensary licenses in the River Valley with help from American Cannabis Company, an industry leader in safe and efficient cannabis cultivation and processing – our venture is River Valley Relief. One of our main motivators for becoming involved continues to be our family’s first-hand experience with the devastating effects of opiate addiction, and we intend to help turn the tide of abuse in our state.

Our commitment to work with patients and physicians:

No-Cost and Low-Cost Medicine for Patients In Need

River Valley Relief recognizes that there is a link between poverty and debilitating ailments and, although effective and safe, medical marijuana can be an expensive treatment option for patients as it is not covered by insurance. We recognize the burden this places on Arkansans, and we are committed to assisting those with a financial hardship. As many areas in our state have higher than average rates of poverty, aiding patients in need is especially important to us, and we are committed to providing safe access to quality medical marijuana for all patients through a Patient Hardship Financial Assistance Program, which will include no-cost and low-cost medical marijuana for patients who demonstrate need.

Patient and Physician Education

We will engage in a series of programs dedicated to educating patients and physicians about the medical benefits of and science behind marijuana.

To facilitate this educational programming, we plan to develop and implement a Continuing Medical Education (“CME”) series in affiliation with leading academic medical centers and hospitals in Arkansas. These events are designed and intended to draw a large audience of physicians, patients, and other medical professionals by offering marijuana-focused medical education from credible individuals and institutions. River Valley Relief will curate the educational component, secure nationally renowned experts and researchers in the field of medical marijuana as speakers, and support other general awareness efforts. This program will be developed to ensure professionals that focus on specific qualifying conditions, such as cancer, are able to understand the health and socioeconomic benefits that accompany legalizing medical cannabis.

Moreover, Arkansas is at a critical point in time regarding opioid abuse. Recent studies show medical marijuana providing a lot of hope on this topic, with observational studies finding correlations between states legalizing medical marijuana and a drop in painkiller prescriptions, opioid use, and deaths from opioid overdose. Our team is dedicated to educating the public about the nation’s epidemic of opioid overdoses and the benefits medical marijuana can provide, including working directly with local substance abuse service providers to advance dialogue and collaborate on harm reduction initiatives.

Research Assistance

We will develop academic partnerships with Arkansas colleges and universities to function as part of our research and education efforts with an overarching goal of improving community understanding and validating the success of the regulated medical marijuana programs in which we operate. We will assist both financially and materially in Arkansas-based research into medical cannabis. We will also seek out guest lecture opportunities at these schools and implement an internship program offering Horticultural / Plant Science / Chemistry / Biology Majors an opportunity to gain unique industry experience that directly aligns with traditional program curriculum.

 

In summary, River Valley Relief aims to do well while doing good in our state and our community through medical cannabis assistance programs for those in need, patient and physician education, and research assistance.