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Medical marijuana growth facility sets sights on Fayetteville

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Photographs by AP/SETH PERLMAN

Marijuana plants are a few weeks away from harvest at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill., in this fi le photo. Marijuana industry entrepreneurs seeking institutional capital are looking to Canada, where bankers, lawyers and accountants dealing with the drug operate without fear of prosecution.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A businessman from Central Arkansas wants to build a marijuana cultivation facility in the city's Commerce District.

The City Council on May 2 will consider selling 5 acres in south Fayetteville for $75,000 to Brian Faught, executive vice president of Adcomm. Faught intends to develop the property under his new company, AR-Canna LLC, a medical marijuana cultivation facility, according to city documents.

Plans call for a 30,000-square-foot cultivation and processing plant and 5,000-square-foot office building. Faught anticipates hiring 35 to 40 hourly employers with a starting wage of $15 per hour, three to five managerial employees with a $50,000 to $70,000 salary and two senior managers making $75,000 to $125,000 per year, Faught stated in a letter to the city.

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AR-Canna will use a Fayetteville architecture firm for the plans and construction drawings of both buildings and hire a local contractor to oversee the buildout, according to Faught, who is from Jacksonville. The 5-acre footprint will allow room to build a second or third cultivation facility as the industry matures.

"We truly believe that AR-Canna will be a welcome and productive member to the Fayetteville business community, and would like our offer to be considered by the City Council in the upcoming April meeting," Faught wrote.

The land sale hinges upon AR-Canna getting a cultivation license from the state. If it doesn't get the license, the money will be returned, city documents stipulate.

The state Medical Marijuana Commission established rules to grant licenses to dispensaries and cultivation facilities based on the merit of their applications. The commission divided the state into eight zones with four dispensaries possible apiece. The five cultivation facilities allowed don't have to be spread out.

Applications for cultivation facilities cost $15,000. Unsuccessful applicants will get $7,500 back.

Applicants must provide proof of assets or a surety bond of $1 million and proof of at least $500,000 in liquid assets. Successful applicants will have to pay an annual $100,000 licensing fee and submit an initial $500,000 performance bond.

The commission, which sets the rules for cultivators and dispensers, serves as one of three state agencies involved in implementing the medical marijuana amendment voters approved. Alcoholic Beverage Control will inspect the facilities. The Department of Health will issue registry cards to patients whose doctors have recommended the drug.

Arkansas voters approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment 53 percent to 47 percent in November.

NW News on 04/21/2017

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