LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge said Friday he'll rule by the middle of next week on whether to allow the state to issue its first licenses for companies to grow medical marijuana after hearing complaints from an unsuccessful applicant challenging the permitting process.

Arkansas State Capitol

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers wrapped up a three-day special session Thursday by completing work on legislation pertaining to pharmacy reimbursement rates, highway funding and college savings plans, just as Gov. Asa Hutchinson was saying he hopes such special sessions don't become routine.

Jerry Adams, CEO of the Arkansas Research Alliance, speaking with Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business and Politics

The Arkansas Research Alliance is a non-profit that ties together the states 5 research institutions:  Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.  Roby Brock with Talk Business and Politics speaks with Jerry Adams, CEO of the Alliance.  Adams has spearheaded the organization for 10 years.  They discuss the impact the alliance has on the state’s economy, their mission, and their future plans.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
KUAR Public Radio

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the state from awarding its first licenses for companies to grow medical marijuana in response to complaints about the state's process for reviewing applications for the facilities.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas regulators are receiving a flurry of challenges to the licensing of the state's first medical marijuana growers.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced last month the five companies that scored high enough to receive a license to grow medical marijuana. The cultivation licenses are expected to officially be issued at Wednesday's commission meeting.

At the 90-year-old Coker-Hampton Drug Company in downtown Stuttgart, the pharmacist and owner of the last 25 years, James Bethea, is deeply concerned about the reimbursement rates from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) he believes are putting small pharmacies at risk of losing their businesses.

Bethea has chosen to continue to fill prescriptions even though a recent law in Arkansas allows pharmacists to refuse a sale if it meant that they would lose money due to reimbursement rates being lower than the price of the product.

“Those are our customers, and we’re going to take care of them,” he said.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow four casinos in Arkansas.

The five companies selected to cultivate medical marijuana in Arkansas should soon be able to set up shop and begin growing. Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said Friday that since the top companies were named last week by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, all have met their  required financial obligations.

"Over the past week we’ve been receiving the licensing fees from the companies, we’ve been receiving the performance bonds, and as of this morning, all five companies have paid," Hardin said.

Arkansas State Capitol

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have approved the state's $5.6 billion budget for the coming year, wrapping up this year's fiscal session in four weeks.


NEW MADRID, Mo. (AP) — A Swiss-based company will open an aluminum smelter in the Missouri Bootheel region, creating up to 400 jobs in one of the state's most impoverished areas.

Wes Brown with Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business and Politics

Northeast Arkansas and the Delta were the big winners at last week revealing of the 5 cultivation centers that will launch to grow medical cannabis in Arkansas.  4 of the 5 cultivation facilities will be located in the Delta.  So, what happens next?  Could there be lawsuits from those dismissed?  How quickly will the centers be built and start hiring?  And, when will you be able to buy medical marijuana if you qualify in Arkansas?  Roby Brock and Wes Brown with Talk Business and Politics discuss.

Agriculture officials in Arkansas are concerned President Trump’s proposed steel tariff could have consequences that would negatively impact the industry. The administration has floated a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has at long-last made its decision to add a work requirement for certain low-income people if they way to keep getting health insurance through Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, known as Arkansas Works. The announcement was made Monday at the state’s Capitol building.

CMS Director Seema Verma personally signed and hand-delivered the federal agency’s letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson granting the state’s request.

(left to right) Arkansas state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) & Arkansas state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia)
Talk Business and Politics

The legislative session in Little Rock is winding down.  State lawmakers optimistically think they may complete their work by week's end.  But, don't hold your breath.  The big issue holding everything up is Arkansas Works.  Are there enough votes to pass the funding bill for the state's controversial Medicaid expansion program?  Roby Brock with Talk Business and Politics sits down with state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) and state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) to find out. 

Days after Arkansas's biennial fiscal session began last month the CSPAN bus rolled into Little Rock, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson hopped aboard. The very first question moderator John McArdle put to Hutchinson was about a balanced budget — specifically, does Arkansas have one?

"Oh, absolutely. We don’t have a deficit in this state. It’s mandated by the [state] constitution to have a balanced budget, which means that we forecast the revenues, then we spend according to that forecast, and if during the course of a year, we don’t meet forecast then we reduce spending. ... We call it the 'Revenue Stabilization' law, which is a toggle, if you will, but it makes us control spending, reduce spending as needed, to make sure it mirrors our revenue picture.  There’s a few things the federal government could learn from this."