With a vote to legalize medicinal marijuana in Oklahoma just months away, a Tulsa developer has crossed state lines to become a part of the industry in Arkansas where voters approved a medical marijuana measure in 2016.
Warren Ross, president and chairman of Ross Group, is one of 27 owners of Natural State Wellness Enterprises, LLC, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, according to the company’s application with the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. Ross Group is a Tulsa-based development company that provides engineering, construction and other building services.
Natural State Wellness Enterprises was one of five companies selected last month by the commission to construct and operate medicinal marijuana centers.
Ross’ ownership equity in the company is 0.31 percent, according to Natural State Wellness Enterprises’ application. He is listed as a “manager/member” in the heavily redacted document, though no other details regarding what role, if any, Ross — or Ross Group — might play in the construction and operation of the cultivation center.
But another name on the application does give a hint as to how the venture might work.
Also listed as a minority owner in Natural State Wellness Enterprises is Steven White, CEO of Harvest, a national medical marijuana operator based in Arizona. His ownership equity is 0.51 percent.
In Ross and White, Natural State Wellness Enterprises has the construction expertise to build a cultivation center and the operational knowledge to run it.
Ross declined comment. White did not respond to a Tulsa World request for comment.
Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, said Natural State Wellness Enterprises on Friday submitted the $100,000 licensing fee and $500,000 performance bond required to move forward with the cultivation center.
In November 2016, 53 percent of Arkansas voters who went to the polls approved a constitutional amendment to create an independent commission to oversee the licensing and regulation of cultivation facilities and dispensaries in the state.
Regulations established by the Medical Marijuana Commission allow each individual medical marijuana card holder to obtain a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days.
The commission began accepting applications for dispensaries and cultivation centers last summer. The commission received 227 applications to operate dispensaries and 95 applications to construct cultivation centers, Hardin said.
The five-member commission ranked cultivation center applicants using a 100-point, merit-based scoring system, with Natural State Wellness Enterprises receiving two of the top-five scores.
SOURCE: Tulsa World