A medical marijuana sign on display at The Herban Underground, a Colorado shop located in Denver. Soon dispensary signage will be popping up in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Vince Chandler, Denver Post file)

The country’s next medical marijuana hotbed could be… Texarkana?

Texarkana has responded to about 70 to 80 inquiries about opening medical cannabis cultivation centers

TEXARKANA, Ark. — A city in southwest Arkansas is creating a legal structure to accommodate medical marijuana entrepreneurs approved for state licenses.

Texarkana has responded to about 70 to 80 inquiries about opening medical cannabis cultivation centers, City Manager Kenny Haskin told the Texarkana Gazette. Haskin said some of those potential operators have come with “shovel ready” plans.

City officials are working to establish zoning and permit rules for the medical marijuana businesses because entrepreneurs can start submitting applications for operating licenses on Friday. A local workshop was held Tuesday by the Planning Commission that focused on appropriate zones for the potential businesses.

Haskin said the city is also creating procedures to submit permits to the city attorney for legal review. He said those rules should be submitted by next week.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission requires that cultivation centers be at least 3,000 feet (914 meters) away from any school, church or daycare. Dispensaries must be 1,500 feet (457 meters) away.

Assistant city planner Mary Beck proposed restricting cultivation centers to manufacturing zones, and allowing retail pharmacies in the zones so dispensaries can operate there.

The Planning Commission’s recommendations are expected to be completed by July. Beck said a proposal could go before the city Board of Directors by August.

Arkansas voters opted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2016.

Information from: Texarkana Gazette