LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Medical Marijuana Commission unanimously approved Wednesday the scores for the state’s nearly 200 dispensary applications.

In two weeks, the commission will officially award the licenses to the top four applicants in eight different zones.

This clears the way for the Arkansas Department of Health department to issue registry ID cards to patients in mid-February so they can make out-of-state purchases.

On New Year’s Day, a medical marijuana dispensary, Pharm 788, opened in Roland, 10 minutes from the Arkansas border. Oklahoma accepts out-of-state patients with a valid ID card.

The more than 6,700 patients approved in Arkansas have only received letters. The health department planned to print the cards one month prior to the product’s availability at dispensaries.

It seems everything with the program is on track, but one unsuccessful dispensary applicant could derail it.

“Believe me, we’ve been waiting a long time,” said Baron Crane with New Leaf Cannabis Company. “We don’t want any more delays, but this needs to be done right and safely.”

Crane’s company applied in Zone 1 and 2, hoping for a license in Eureka Springs or Harrison. However, the company came in seventh place in Zone 2 and 19th place in Zone 1.

“We did a statistical analysis on the scores, and we found that the consultants actually gave the same score in certain sections on 180 of 200 applications,” Crane said. “That’s 90 percent of the applications received the same exact score. Wouldn’t you want the safest applicants and the applicants with the best experience? This just means that they got overwhelmed and started copying their scores down.” 

The company filed a letter of protest Wednesday with the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division. When asked if the complaints could turn into a lawsuit, Crane said, “They very well could. Yes.” 

However, the company hired to score the applications, Public Consulting Group, told the commission it did quality assurance on them and did not find any skewed results. The commission agreed.

“I’ve probably been the most vocal critic of the process, but at the same time, I think they’ve done a good job,” said Commissioner Travis Story. 

The commission also voted to allow one of the five cultivation companies to transfer its location a mile and a half down the road to a site across from the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Grimes Unit.

This comes after an unsuccessful cultivation applicant filed a protest letter against Delta Medical Cannabis Company Inc.’s current location near Arkansas State University-Newport. The main question was if ASU-Newport is considered a school.

The commission’s rules say colleges and universities are not considered schools. Following an attorney general opinion request, Leslie Rutledge opined a court would not deem ASU-Newport a school.

Cultivators have told the commission they should have the product ready starting in April.

According to the commission, the following are the state’s dispensary rankings by zone: 

Zone 1:

Acanza Health Group 

Valentine Holdings, LLC

Arkansas Medicinal Source Patient Center

The Releaf Center 

Zone 2:

Fiddler’s Green

Big Fish of North Central Arkansas

Plant Family Therapeutics

Arkansas Natural Products

Zone 3:

Valentine Holdings, LLC

Grassroots OPCO

THC RX, Inc.

Delta Cannabis Co. 

Zone 4:

Valentine Holdings, LLC

Natural State Wellness Dispensary 

JPS Management, LLC

River Valley Dispensary 

Zone 5:


Grassroots OPCO

Natural State Wellness Dispensary 

Natural Relief Dispensary 

Zone 6:

Green Springs Medical 

Native Green Wellness Center 

Doctors Orders RX

Natural State Medical Group, LLC 

Zone 7:

Acanza Health Group 

Natural State Wellness Dispensary 

PainFree RX

Delta Cultivators 

Zone 8: 

Grassroots OPCO

Noah’s Ark, LLC

Bloom Medicinals of AR, LLC


Several companies scored in the top four in multiple zones. They will have to select one, and the 5th place group will get a license.