Big Fish of North Central Arkansas dispensary coming to Heber Springs

Big Fish of North Central Arkansas dispensary coming to Heber Springs

After the state Medical Marijuana Commission accepted the dispensary application results and scores submitted to it by the Public Consulting Group on Wednesday evening, the state sent out notifications to the 32 top scoring applicants letting them know they’ve been selected for a license. The Times hopes to report on the business plans for the selected dispensaries, so please email with tips.

Josh Landers is an owner of a 25 percent stake in Big Fish of North Central Arkansas, which received the second highest score in zone 2 with 342.17 points earned. The Big Fish dispensary will be located at 1400 Heber Springs Road in Heber Springs. Other owners of Big Fish include Dr. Regina Thurman (55 percent), a Fayetteville pain management doctor, former chair of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association (which has merged with the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association) and the wife of Razorback basketball great and current coach Scotty Thurman; Marshall Wright (19 percent), a former Democratic state legislator from Forrest City; and Eddie Garcia (1 percent). 

The business is represented by Alex Gray, who is an attorney for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association and a partner at law firm Steel Wright Gray with Wright. Gray said Big Fish will not grow its own medical cannabis, and it doesn’t yet know what specific strains or products it will offer once open because it will be determined by the interests of its customers. 

“This is supply [and] demand,” Gray said. “A Walgreens doesn’t really know every single product it’s going to get, it’s really going to be what the patients want. So much of it’s going to be determined on the market. … I think that we’ll have the general products and then we’ll see what people are wanting. If everybody’s wanting edibles, then guess what, we’ll have more edibles. It’s just hard to speculate in terms of what that demand is going to be.” 

Gray also said that Big Fish hopes to open in the next few months, depending on when it receives its dispensary license and its product. “Hopefully once product is available, we’ll be able to sell it,” he said. 

Landers, who has a clinical doctorate in physical therapy, is a professor of biology at UA Little Rock and is completing a Ph.D. in physical therapy at the University of Central Arkansas. He said his motivation for applying to become a dispensary is in part due to watching his grandmother pass away from pancreatic cancer. 

“It was more [that she was] dying of malnutrition, and her quality of life was terrible, just from the nausea and everything associated with the chemo,” he said. “So from that aspect, I’ve supported it. Obviously, with it being marijuana, there’s opportunity for people to try to take advantage of things, but I think it has more pros than cons.” 

Landers said he has experience in starting businesses, as he and his father, Nick Landers, own Landers Development, a construction company in Bryant. “Getting in from the ground up on a business venture is always fun, too,” he added. 

Big Fish is finishing changes to an existing structure for its new storefront. Landers said he’s glad to be one of the top scorers in zone 2, and he’s looking forward to opening. “Obviously it was real competitive,” he said. “I felt like we had a good team together and a good plan together, so I had some confidence going into it, but with so many applicants, you just never know. So, I’m real excited.”

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