LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Emergency rules that govern medical marijuana from seed to sale went into effect Monday.
There’s no drug to buy or sell at this point, but the key players, the Medical Marijuana Commission, Arkansas Department of Health and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, are preparing for that moment.
“They’re already regulating alcohol in the state, but medical marijuana is a totally different animal,” said Jake Bleed, the spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
It’s an animal the ABC is in charge of taming. Enforcement officers are preparing to add five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries to their long list of stops.
“We don’t have a huge number of ABC enforcement agents,” Bleed said. “They’re all over the state so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to wear a couple different hats.”
According to the ABC’s medical marijuana rules, officers will inspect the licensed facilities before they open and at least once every six months after to make sure they comply.
“If we have a dispensary or cultivation facility that’s not in compliance, we have to be able to bring them up before the board and make sure they get back into compliance,” Bleed said.
The process is similar to what the ABC already does with liquor.
It’s also responsible for issuing registration identification cards to employees of cultivation facilities and dispensaries and manning their inventory tracking systems with the health department.
“It’ll be a challenge for a lot of us, but I think we can handle it,” Bleed said.
People can submit applications for licenses to grow and dispense marijuana starting July 1.