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Updates from the June 6th Medical Marijuana Commission Meeting

All commissioners were present.

Edward Armstrong, the Director of the Arkansas Office of State Procurement, advised the commissioners on the best practices for putting together a merit-based procurement process. He’s advocating a 0 to 5 grading scale, with 5 being excellent and 0 being irrelevant or blank. He presented the commissioners with a document expounding on the distinctions for each score. He says that every score given should have a rational basis. They then average the score for each of the evaluators, in this case, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana commissioners.

Joel DiPippa, attorney for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration,  reiterated that the individual scores from each of the MMC commissioners cannot be discussed as a group. Joel also added that utilizing a clear scoring rubric, like the one suggested by Mr. Armstrong, will help make more more consistent scoring among the commissioners.

The discussion turned to application page limits. Joel DiPippa said that the range from other states ranged from no limit to very succinct. Very few of the other states declined to set a limit on the number of pages in an application. Commissioner Dr. Carlos Roman advocated for a page limit from 20 – 25 pages. Chairwoman Dr. Ronda Henry Tillman also advocates for a similar page limit along with references inside of the application to the attached addenda. Multiple commissioners stated that a good application will include clear references to the included addenda, such as a table of contents. The consensus was on a 25-page limit to the application along with unlimited addenda. The commissioners stated that they will read every page of the application, but it will be up to their discretion as to whether or not they choose to read an additional attachment.

The discussion turned to point allocations within the application documents. Commissioner James Miller advocated for grading each application schedule as a whole. Joel DiPippa then advocated for breaking down the schedules into sub-scores to help prevent subjectivity in scoring. Commissioner Roman also advocated for keeping the scoring at a higher level per application schedule. Travis Story is also in favor of scoring like that from the State of Connecticut, which keeps scoring as a higher level. Commissioner Dr. Stephen Carroll voiced his support of sub-section scoring, but he was the only one.

Attorney Mary Robin Casteel, interim director of the Arkansas Beverage Control, reiterated that the notices for applications being available are due on June 20th. The application period will begin on June 30th and will then run for 90 days. Her main point was that the time for finalizing these applications is now.

Still on the topic of breaking down scoring for sub-sections, Joel DiPippa recommended that each commissioner assign a point value to each of the five sub-sections in Schedule 2, which they’ve already agreed is worth 50% of the points on the application.

For dispensaries who opt not to grow, applicants will need to disclose that fact in Schedule 1. The same application will apply to both dispensaries who intend to grow and those who do not. Dispensaries who opt not to grow can change that election only with further approval from the MMC. Schedule 2.a. is the unknown on how points will be awarded to dispensaries who opt not to grow. Dispensaries who do not grow will not be penalized in the scoring compared to growing and/or processing dispensaries.

Schedule 6.b. clarification – ownership by minorities, veterans, or women must be 51% of the entity. The ownership among the three categories is not cumulative to meet the bonus requirement.

Application formatting – 12 points, single-spaced, 1-inch margins, front-side only – Times New Roman font recommended.

The commission opted not to put a deadline on the scoring of applications.

The state RFP for the seed-to-sale tracking system will be complete soon, according to DiPippa.

There are no future meetings scheduled.

Processor, transporter, and distributor licenses will be handled sometime in the future, possibly July or August.

Cultivation Facility & Dispensary Application Scoring Breakdown:

  • Schedule 1 – 10%
    • Qualifications of Applicant
  • Schedule 2 – 50% total
    • Ability to Operate a Cultivation Facility in Compliance with Applicable Laws, Rules, and Regulations
      • 2a. – 14%
        • Ability to manufacture approved medical marijuana products
          • (15, 12, 10, 20 – individual scores – ts, sc, rh, jm, cr)
      • 2b. – 8%
        • Ability to comply with the construction specifications
          • (8, 8, 10, 10, 5 – individual scores)
      • 2c. – 9%
        • Ability to comply with the security and storage requirements
          • (10, 10, 10, 15, 5 – individual scores)
      • 2d. – 10%
        • Ability to comply with the requirements for packaging medical marijuana
          • (5, 10, 20, 5, 15 – individual scores)
      • 2e. – 9%
        • Ability to comply with the requirements  for the transportation of medical marijuana
          • (12, 10, 10, 10, 5 – individual scores)
  • Schedule 3 – 20%
    • Operations Plan
      • Business Plan – 16%
      • Estimated Timeline – 4%
  • Schedule 4 – 10%
    • Financial Disclosure
  • Bonus – 10% total
    • Schedule 5 – 2.5%
      • Bonus – Affiliation with a Doctor
    • Schedule 6
      • Bonus – Economic Impact and Diversity
        • 6a. – 2.5%
        • 6b. – 2.5%
    • Schedule 7 – 2.5%
      • Bonus – Community Benefit

Motions Passed:

  • Applications will be limited to 25 pages along with unlimited addenda that will be clearly cited within the application.
  • The scoring of Schedules 2 and 3 will be broken down into sub-sections.
  • The scoring of the sub-sections of Schedule 2 will be broken down as listed above.
  • The scoring of the sub-sections of Schedule 3 will be broken down as listed above.
  • Schedule 6.b. – ownership by a minority group must be 51% of the entity.
  • The dispensary application is finalized.
  • Required application format will be single-spaced lines.