WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (localmemphis.com) – Later this month, the first of 32 approved medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open, but as Local 24 News discovered Wednesday, those in Memphis’ backyard aren’t anywhere close to completion.
Three dispensaries are licensed in West Memphis, but their construction schedule and target date is a big mystery.
As other dispensaries begin to open across the Natural State, Gov. Asa Hutchinson promised strong enforcement to prevent marijuana meant for medical use from crossing the state line into Memphis for recreational use.
“We have to support the public will and the public voted this in,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Two and a half years after Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana, later this month, state officials said one dispensary in Hot Springs, possibly two, will take in their first customers.
“Following the voters will, this is medicine, so we are treating it as a regulatory medicine, we are having stringent requirements on it,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
To date, Arkansas leaders approved nearly 11,000 medical marijuana ID cards.
Those eligible must show proof they live in Arkansas, get a doctor’s certificate, and meet one of more than a dozen qualifying conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, severe nausea, and seizures.
“Certainly, there are legitimate medical needs out there that they need as patients, the medical marijuana, but at the same time this is a drug that can be abused,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Three of the approved dispensaries in the 14-county northeast Arkansas zone will be in West Memphis, but apparently not anytime soon. Two of the listed West Memphis addresses only had stakes in open fields and the third was an unoccupied building.
Gov. Hutchinson promised those dispensaries will be monitored closely and constantly.
“Our law enforcement will cooperate very carefully with our partners in other states to make sure that we share information and enforce the law,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Local 24 News texted and left messages with those involved with West Memphis’ three planned medical marijuana dispensaries, but they weren’t available or didn’t call back.