Arkansas moves closer toward launching medical pot program

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas panel has named 32 companies it intends to license to sell medical marijuana, two years after voters approved its legalization and following a series of delays that have frustrated patients and advocates.

The Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday approved the scores from an outside consultant it had hired to evaluate about 200 applications for dispensaries. The companies must pay a $15,000 licensing fee and post a $100,000 performance bond before the licenses to sell the drug are formally issued. The commission last year awarded five cultivation licenses to grow medical marijuana.

Arkansas voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana, but the program's rollout has faced legal and bureaucratic delays. Even with Wednesday's vote, patients are still likely months away from being able to buy marijuana.

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