By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
Prescott’s longtime economic development director Mary Godwin was driving back home Monday afternoon with Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver from a regional timber conference at Ouachita Baptist University. “It was a good conference, a positive conference,” Oliver said, but he had no new announcements to make.
Their trip emphasized the “try again” determination of the two after the recent disappointment of having a proposed Prescott-based marijuana dispensary unceremoniously relocated to Texarkana at last week’s State Medical Marijuana Commission meeting, losing both a new business and new jobs for the area.
Looking back on the relocated dispensary, Goodwin said Monday, “We had been working on this project since 2016, so it has been a long time. The past two months have not been a pleasant experience. I’ve been shocked and upset.”
After believing the dispensary was going to be in Prescott, word reached Godwin of March’s Medical Marijuana Commission meeting, where the relocation was being proposed by the company involved, identified as RX Med. Godwin and Oliver went to Little Rock to meet with individual commissioners to plead their case.
In April’s meeting last Wednesday, however, the relocation from Prescott to Texarkana was approved, giving Texarkana two such facilities, while leaving a widespread service area of Prescott and Nevada County as well as Hope and Hempstead County without one.
Godwin said, “In our communities, transportation is a real issue for many people. Many people simply don’t have cars or can’t drive long distances. Texarkana is 50 miles away, so having two there is a real disservice. I pointed that out to the commissioners.”
The state of Arkansas is subdivided into eight zones for approved dispensaries. Both Prescott and Hope as well as all of southwestern Arkansas is in Zone 8. Other approved sites in Zone 8 are in El Dorado, Arkadelphia, and a site already approved for Texarkana at Bloom Medicinals on 410 Realtor Road. Prescott was to be site four within the zone.
Oliver was more blunt Monday, saying “I feel Prescott was used and abused in this process, and we don’t have an appeal in this.”
According to the Commission’s records, RX Med. officials said that 15 sites were examined in Prescott, but cited various restrictions such as locations to close schools and churches. The dispensary can not operate within 1,500 feet of certain schools, daycare facilities, or churches
Godwin confirmed Monday that it was true that some sites were restricted, but she added “The options were reduced, but we did have two good sites available for them.”
Godwin praised both State Representative Danny Watson and State Senator Bruce Maloch for communicating with the commission on behalf of Nevada County.
“Whether one agrees on medical marijuana or not, the people of Arkansas spoke and approved the medical marijuana and establishment of dispensaries, so to us, this was an economic development issue about new business and new jobs. We are disappointed not to have the business or the jobs. For Prescott and Nevada County, that is a big deal for us,” she said.