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Sarah Climaco

As officials expected, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration were flooded with medical cannabis business applications on the day of the application deadline. Scott Hardin, spokesman for the department, told the Associated Press that about 300 applications were filed by the close of business Monday, with about 100 of those for cultivation licenses, and the rest for distribution licenses.

Cultivation hopefuls had to pay a refundable $15,000 application fee, while potential distributors paid a refundable $7,500 application fee. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will blindly review the applicants and ultimately award five grower and 32 distributor licenses. The state Health Department has already approved 1,200 medical cannabis patients. Patient identification cards cost $50 and must be renewed annually.

Director of Health Communications Marisha DiCarlo has previously indicated that the department is expecting to receive about 30,000 patient applications. She based the estimate on “population, types of qualifying conditions, and trends in other states.” The state’s voter-approved medical cannabis law covers 18 qualifying conditions.

Although the measure was approved by 53 percent of Arkansas voters in November, the ballot question lost on nearly half of the state’s 75 counties. The law allows for municipalities to prohibit cannabis industry operations similarly to how the state has “wet” and “dry” counties for alcohol. So far, no Arkansas county has banned cannabis industry operations.

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