HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) — On Friday, medical marijuana was sold legally for the first time in Arkansas since voters approved it in November 2016.
Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs made the sale ahead of the dispensary’s Saturday grand opening.
THV11 spoke exclusively with Sean Sharp, the patient who made that historic purchase.
Sharp was diagnosed with cancer on his 50th birthday.
“Two years ago I got diagnosed, and I’ve been living with the collateral damage,” he said. “It’s a life-changing experience.”
Chemo and radiation have helped Sharp reach remission. However, he still requires medication to manage pain and other issues brought on by cancer.
“Today is a great day,” Sharp said. “It’s a chance for me to get off a bunch of medication I’m taking that I really don’t need to be taking because there’s an alternative,” he said looking down at his canisters of marijuana.
Sharp arrived at Doctor’s Orders RX around 7 a.m. Friday. Roughly 12 hours later, his transaction was complete.
“It took all day to make the sale happen,” dispensary manager Bud Watkins said. “The gentleman who received the medicine tonight, it’s amazing. I’m just thrilled to be a part of helping that guy. It’s just awesome.”
Watkins said the dispensary hopes to help hundreds of other people once it opens for business at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Arkansas has nearly 12,000 patients approved to purchase medical cannabis, which has the facility prepared for a long line of waiting customers.
“We’re just going to do our very best to take care of everybody,” Watkins said. “Get in line; we’ll stay with you until the time to quit selling [which] is 10:00 at night. Line up.”
Product availability is limited and patients will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Doctor’s Orders owner Don Sears.
“At this time, processing schedules are unpredictable and out of our control. But we are thrilled to, finally, be able to provide Arkansans with the prescriptions they have waited more than two years to fill,” Sears said in a Friday evening press release.
Green Springs Medical Dispensary, which is also in Hot Springs, plans to open on Monday.
The chairwoman of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission issued a statement late Friday night in response to the start of sales.
“We are pleased to see Medical Marijuana Dispensaries open, and are glad that patients will be able to access the appropriate cannabis product and possible relief they have patiently been awaiting since the passage of Amendment 98,” Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D. said.
As Sharp leaves Doctor’s Orders with cannabis in-hand, he does so with gratitude and a sense of renewed hope.
“It means everything to me. I’ll be able to spend more quality time with my granddaughter. It’s worth it.”