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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission Sets High Fees For Growers

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Arkansans looking to grow medical marijuana after voters passed Issue 6 in November may be turned away by the cost of applying for a license and paying an annual fee.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, which was appointed to establish regulations for growers and dispensaries, decided growers will have to pay an annual fee of $100,000 in addition to the $15,000 application fee.

"You want someone that is financially sound to get the licenses," Issue 6 sponsor David Couch said. "So if you're able to pay a $100,000 fee to get the license, that's going to be a small cost to do business and the money will help to fund the medical marijuana commission."

The commission also agreed applicants will have to have bonds or assets worth $1 million to be considered.

"In other states, to grow to open and operate a grow facility from seed to first production, you're probably gonna need more than a million dollars in cash to do it," Couch said.

Since medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, business owners cannot receive loans from banks to help fund their business, but applicants will be able to apply in groups to receive the license. However, meeting the financial qualifications will not be up for negotiation.

"You want to make sure the person who gets the license has the ability to produce and grow the product to get to the patient because if we don't then our whole system collapses," Couch said.

The commission has until June 2017 to finalize the rules unless the legislature extends the deadline. The commission will meet again next week.

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