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Benton backs med bud sales 

Benton voted this week to allow medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers to be permitted and constructed within city limits. Ordinance 52 of 2017 allows the facilities to be built in retail areas. Under the ordinance, dispensaries and cultivators aren't to be located close to schools, childcare centers and churches. Though the board passed the ordinance, Benton Mayor David Mattingly said he opposes the facilities, telling the board, "I still don't think this is the way we should be going. If I had greater influence or had been asked, I would have said, 'Why aren't we doing this in pharmacies with all the other kind of drugs? Why have we created a whole new industry?' " On July 24, the board had voted to put a 90-day moratorium on issuing permits for any new dispensary and cultivation center applications.

The Arkansas National Guard has issued a video warning soldiers that they can still face military punishment for marijuana use, even if they are prescribed the drug by a doctor. The video, posted Nov. 13 to the Arkansas National Guard Facebook page, directs soldiers to a July 7 memo outlining the Guard's strict policies on marijuana use by soldiers, written by Maj. Gen. Mark H. Berry. The video begins with a graphic saying, "Marijuana use is not compatible with military service," before warning: "Arkansas soldiers and airmen will still face administrative action or military justice for any marijuana use." The text is accompanied by a still shot of arms in fatigues wearing handcuffs. The video ends with another graphic that says: "Take care of your career. Don't smoke marijuana recreationally or medically."

Who would have thought in years past that one day you could go to the Central Arkansas Library's Main Library to hear Arkansas Department of Health spokesmen talk about medical marijuana? But that's what you can do from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Joining the health department for the Medical Cannabis FAQs will be the Drug Policy Education Group and the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association; all will answer questions about the medical marijuana law, the medical marijuana industry, how to sign up for medical marijuana and community impact.

Arkansas's first big cannabis industry expo is coming to Little Rock in December, and will feature a host of local and national companies that hope to cash in on the opportunities the dawn of medical cannabis and industrial hemp will bring to the state.

Hosted by Imperious Expo and Directory, the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association and other sponsors, the Imperious Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo will be held Dec. 6-7 at the Statehouse Convention Center at 101 E. Markham St. The expo has over 35 vendors and companies committed to attend, including firms involved in all facets of the industry, from seeds to publications to retail packaging. Tickets for both days are $50, and can be purchased through the Imperious website at imperiousexpo.com/expos/arklatex2017.

Speakers who will present talks at the expo over the weekend include Neil Juneja of Gleam Law, a cannabis-focused law firm based in Washington and Oregon that counts Snoop Dogg and several large cannabis-related companies among its roster of clients; Arkansas pharmacist Josh Winningham of PhytoPharm.D, a cannabis consulting firm; Random Vaughn, a Washington cannabis cultivator and seller who will speak on marijuana retail, including merchandising, franchising and branding; medical-grade cannabis cultivation expert Eric Brandstad of Forever Flowering Greenhouses in San Joaquin County, Calif.; Jan Bartlett, director of the Southern Center for Cannabis Research, which partners with universities to study cannabis and the hemp industry; author and reporter Keiko Beatie, a board member of NORML who is also contributing writer at Edibles List Magazine; Andy Joseph of Ohio, president of Apeks Supercritical, which builds industrial hemp oil extraction systems; Jason Martin, CEO of Tree of Life Seeds, who serves as a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association; Arkansas pharmacist Dr. Rhonda Beck and others.

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