LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas has chosen a Boston-based consultant to grade the more than 200 applications for the state's first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.
Public Consulting Group Inc. was one of just two companies to respond to the state's request issued to 30 companies that could grade the cannabis-vending proposals. The request required any consultant to ensure it had no conflicts of interest with any dispensary company stockholders, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission decided to outsource dispensary license scoring to a third-party group after applicants complained about a cultivation licensing process earlier this year. Commissioners graded 83 proposals for five available growing licenses, but a wave of unsuccessful applicants had alleged commissioner bias, scoring errors and regulators' failure to verify claims made in applications.
All five cultivation licenses are now formally issued , and those companies are beginning to construct their facilities where crops will be grown.
Public Consulting Group must submit the final scores 30 days after receiving the applications. The group asked for a price of about $99,500, far less than the other responding firm's quote of $361,500.
"It's such a good deal that it almost makes you ask, 'So what's the catch?'" said David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who drafted the 2016 constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas. "But you look at (Public Consulting Group) and they look legitimate."