In Colorado, Adams County used a lottery in 2015 to determine who can apply for licenses for three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility. (Megan Mitchell, Denver Post file)

Arkansas ditches lottery plan for dispensary licenses

Dispensary owners would have to pay a $7,500 application fee, a $15,000 one-time licensing fee, and a $22,500 fee to renew annually under the commission's new rules

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has opted to license dispensaries based on the merit of their applications instead of using a lottery.

The decision made Wednesday reverses a draft rule that required dispensary applicants to meet minimum requirements to enter a lottery in order to present their plan to the commission, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

With its decision, the commission also eliminated an option that would have reduced regulation and costs for dispensaries that didn’t grow marijuana.

The commission made the decision after hearing critics of the draft policy during a public hearing last week in Little Rock.

“That’s what I absolutely wanted,” said Melissa Fults, executive director of Drug Policy Education Group and one a critic of the lottery plan. “I’m a happy camper.”

But some lawyers expressed concerns, saying having different applications for dispensary slots wouldn’t be fair and would likely result in lawsuits.

Dispensaries will face a $15,000 one-time licensing fee and a $22,500 fee to renew the license annually under the commission’s new rules. The businesses would also need to provide proof of assets or a $200,000 fee to renew the license annually under the commission’s new rules.

Application fees would remain $7,500, with half of the amount refunded if an application isn’t successful.

The commission meets again Tuesday to finalize the changes that will later be reviewed and approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette