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Arkansas marijuana facility slapped with hefty fine for multiple regulatory violations

by Brenda Lepenski

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — A Hot Springs marijuana cultivation facility was fined thousands of dollars Wednesday after state officials determined they violated a series of charges.

Leafology, which was facing fines up to $15,500 and a 15-day suspension, walked away from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's meeting owing $10,500.

Charges ranged from failure to keep odors under control, and failure to properly label and store medical marijuana in a safe or vault, among other violations.

Before Wednesday's meeting, Leafology paid $5,000 for 9,237 grams of inventory that could not be located.

During the ABC meeting, agents who wrote the violations were questioned about their findings, and residents living near the Garland County cultivation facility shared their concerns.

Phil Higdon said he lives on the south side of the facility and shared his concerns about odor, noise, and smell.

"I think $10,500 fine is probably they make that every second of the day, so I don't think that's impacted their pocketbook at all," he said. "The suspension would have been a better thing, as far as them really getting serious about correcting the problem, which they haven't."

Higdon said efforts from Leafology to improve the situation were "not working" and noted he and other residents could potentially see themselves speaking on the same issues in front of the governing board down the road.

Leadership and counsel for Leafology noted the reason the smell had been an issue for so long was due to a series of weather events that caused their pipes to freeze, leading their building to be damaged.

"We had a freeze event in December - below zero multiple days - highs never got above 32 degrees," Leafology's attorney Damon Singleton said. "It caused some issues, [Leafololgy] worked on those issues as best they could."

Singleton said there was also a hail storm that caused severe damage to the facility's roof.

Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration which manages the ABC Division, said the state has eight cultivation facilities, and most of them are located in more rural areas.

"This one is a little closer to obviously an apartment complex and homes," he said. "That's why I think this has become such an issue."

Hardin said although the board decided to do away with the suspension and implement the fine, ABC will still monitor the situation.

"[Leafology] still has an obligation to meet the requirement, and that is that there's not a smell surrounding this facility and that they continue to be a good neighbor," he said. "Just because today's decision doesn't mean that ABC steps back. They have to continue to monitor this to ensure that there is compliance."


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