Greenlight CEO plans to open 3 more stores if amendment passes September 29, 2022 By Griffin Coop Greenlight dispensaries expects to add three more Arkansas locations if voters pass an amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in November. John Mueller, CEO and co-founder of Greenlight, said he’s already had discussions with the owners of the three dispensaries his company operates in West Memphis, Helena-West Helena and Little Rock. Greenlight operates 23 dispensaries in Missouri, West Virginia and Arkansas. The company plans to add one in Illinois, one in West Virginia and eight in South Dakota, Mueller said. Mueller said he is following the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment closely, as well as recreational proposals in Missouri and South Dakota, which already have medical programs but will consider legalizing recreational marijuana in November. The Arkansas measure, which was cleared for the ballot by the state Supreme Court last week, would increase the maximum number of dispensaries in the state from 40 to 120. The owners holding medical marijuana dispensary licenses would keep their licenses under the new law and get an additional recreational marijuana dispensary license. Mueller previously owned a dispensary, as well as a cultivation facility, in Nevada when that state transitioned from medical to recreational. Mueller eventually sold the business to Curaleaf, which, incidentally, was the owner of the Little Rock dispensary that became Greenlight Little Rock. THREE DISPENSARIES: Greenlight operates this dispensary in West Memphis, as well as dispensaries in Helena-West Helena and Little Rock. (Photo courtesy of Greenlight) Based on his experience, Mueller said he expects the Arkansas market to grow to 2.2 to 2.5 times its current size. Arkansas’s 38 operating dispensaries do about $25 million in sales each month, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration, and Mueller said he expects that number to grow to about $62.5 million a month, resulting in about $750 million in sales statewide each year. An economic impact study released this week by Responsible Growth Arkansas, the Arkansas amendment’s sponsor, estimated the Arkansas market would do $665.6 million in sales in 2023, the first year of legalization. The study estimated sales would grow to $984 million by 2027. Mueller said the expected market growth wouldn’t require his dispensaries to physically expand but would require doubling the company’s employees to 100 between Election Day and March 8, the date when dispensaries can begin selling to adult use consumers. As for the legalization campaigns, Mueller said the measures in Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota all have favorable polling. A poll by Talk Business and Politics and Hendrix College found that 58.5% of respondents supported the Arkansas legalization initiative, while 29% opposed it. The most important campaign messaging, he said, will be educating the public about eliminating the black market and keeping products out of the hands of children. Mueller estimated the Arkansas black market to be at more than $500 million. “I think any time you are regulating, testing and controlling it, it is a lot better than it coming in the black market,” Mueller said. “I believe you have in excess of a half a billion dollars in black market that is coming in the state of Arkansas today. Any time you can move that over into a regulatory environment with the ABC controlling every gram going in and out of there, making sure that packaging is child-resistant and not appealing to children, we are always going to win that battle.” Mueller said the Arkansas market is tightly regulated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division, and he dismissed an argument by legalization opponent Jerry Cox. On Sunday, Cox told Roby Brock, host KARK public affairs TV show Capitol View, that dispensaries in other states have been found to be selling unregulated marijuana that is grown by “human-trafficked individuals that are held like slaves to grow this stuff illegally.” “With the BioTrack and seed-to-sale tracking system, I could not imagine that anybody has ever done that in the state of Arkansas,” Mueller said. Arkansas regulators, he said, do surprise inspections, go through every vape pen and gram of flower and audit the store’s BioTrack system. Regulators also have access to the store’s cameras and can see who is coming in and out of the building. “There’s just simply no black market coming into a dispensary and out the front door to a patient today and surely that will remain the case once we go to adult use here in November,” Mueller said.