Plant Family Therapeutics building dispensary with ‘culture of compassion’ in Mountain Home

Plant Family Therapeutics building dispensary with ‘culture of compassion’ in Mountain Home

Plant Family Therapeutics, which received the third highest dispensary score in North Arkansas’s Zone 2, is building a new facility at 5172 Highway 62 E. in Mountain Home. Clint Mickle, a PFT owner, said the dispensary hopes to open by the end of the summer.

Mickle, who said he has a master’s in public health, owns a 30 percent stake in the dispensary. Other owners include James Compton, 40 percent; Conway neurologist Keith Schluterman, 5 percent; Fort Smith optometrist Adam Schluterman, 5 percent; and M & M Landscape and Lawn owners Jeff McAnally and Linda McAnally, who own 5 and 15 percent stakes, respectively.

Mickle said he was motivated to open the dispensary because of the help medical cannabis can provide to those with chronic illnesses who previously had no choice but to use opioids.

“I watched the opioid epidemic take hold over the last 10 years and saw patients struggling with chronic illnesses and diseases with no other options than synthetic pharmaceuticals,” he said. “[The opioids] become highly addictive, which can cause one set of problems, and they can lead to overdose. From my research, this doesn’t apply to cannabis, and it seems to be a natural alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals.”

Excavation and groundwork for the construction of the dispensary has begun, according to Mickle, but small changes to the building’s blueprints to “increase operational efficiency” are still being tweaked.

The dispensary successfully applied to grow a limited amount of marijuana. “Grow” dispensaries can grow up to 50 mature plants and up to 100 plants in a vegetative state. Mickle said Plant Family does not have plans to sell any in-house product to other dispensaries, but it will “see how the market develops and go from there.”

While Mickle said the dispensary does not yet know which specific strains it will sell, as this will depend on product provided by the cultivators, Plant Family wants to have a “wide enough [strain] selection to meet the needs of all the qualifying conditions.”

Plant Family intends to offer a variety of products in addition to cannabis flower, according to Mickle.

“Our goal would certainly be to have tinctures, transdermals, edibles, lozenges and a lot of alternative options to inhaling the product,” Mickle said. “I think a lot of our patient base will be inexperienced users, [such as] seniors, and we need to have options for consumption that they’re comfortable with.”

The state Medical Marijuana Commission’s rules allow for dispensaries to be open anytime from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., any day of the week. Mickle said Plant Family will open with fewer hours and adjust accordingly as business grows.

Asked what he thought of the state’s application process, Mickle said it was an “enormous amount of work,” but he thinks the state did a “good job of setting up criteria that filtered the people most qualified to work in this industry.”

“They set up zones for the dispensaries that worked in patients’ interest,” Mickle said. “There is availability spread across the state, and patients have access to medicine without having to go to metropolitan hubs. It was a drawn-out process and the delays sometimes seemed long, but the state has worked hard to make sure we’re doing things the right way and don’t have the problems that other states who’ve rushed have encountered. Once the product is available, I think the state will be happy with industryas a whole.”

Plant Family is finalizing its security plans, and Mickle said “basically every inch” of the facility will be monitored by cameras. When patients enter the dispensary, they’ll be required to present identification and have their status checked in the computer database to ensure they haven’t exceeded their purchase limit on medical cannabis products, according to Mickle. Patients will then be allowed into the “display area,” where they can meet with dispensary consultants to discuss treatment and products.

The dispensary hopes to learn and better understand the needs of its patient base, according to Mickle.

“We’re looking forward to helping people that haven’t found better options out there,” he said. “And to just being a positive contributor in the community. There’s a negative connotation or perception, I think, around this product and this industry, and we want to work to change some of those misconceptions by running a first-class facility that helps the community with philanthropic efforts but also benefits people in need. Having this option out there, from a societal standpoint, is compassion at it’s finest.”

Plant Family has hired Michael Lunsford as its executive director, and Mickle said it has begun the process of hiring “horticulture support staff, extraction staff and clinical staff” as well as a registered nurse to “manage clinical affairs.” 

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