The state Department of Finance and Administration estimated that government oversight of Arkansas' medical marijuana can cost between $4 million and $6 million a year. (Ed Andrieski, The Associated Press)

Panel sets hefty application fee to grow Arkansas medical marijuana

'I’d like to see some of it refundable if not all of it': The commission must create rules by June to govern how Arkansas residents can apply for cultivation and dispensary licenses

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state commission said residents hoping to grow Arkansas medical marijuana must pay a $15,000 application fee in addition to a licensing fee.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission approved the plan on Tuesday. The licensing fee has yet to be determined, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The $15,000 fee is the maximum allowed under the medical marijuana amendment that voters approved last month. Unsuccessful applicants will get back half of the application fee.

The panel’s dissenting vote came from Commissioner Travis Story, who said growers need to demonstrate the financial ability to operate a cultivation facility.

“There aren’t very many cultivators,” Story said. “The last thing we want is for one of these cultivation facilities to go out of business, and so having somebody who has the wherewithal — who has the ability — to make sure they can fully perform is the important part.”

Commissioner Dr. Carlos Roman said the fees for growers should be kept as low as possible to allow for more applications, and approved the refund the plan.

“I’d like to see some of it refundable if not all of it,” Roman said. “I think it would encourage more people to get involved.”

The state Department of Finance and Administration estimated that government oversight of Arkansas’ medical marijuana can cost between $4 million and $6 million a year. Tax revenue only covers about $2.5 million, so fees are expected to fill some of the finances.

The commission must create rules by June to govern how Arkansas residents can apply for cultivation and dispensary licenses.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette