Originally published in the Barry County Advertiser on November 14, 2018
Link to the original article: http://www.4bcaonline.com/medical-marijuana-dispensary-to-come-to-cassville.html
Vinnie Roberts Last Tuesday, Missourians voted Amendment 2 into law, officially starting Missouri on the path to becoming the 31st state to legalize marijuana. Immediately, questions have begun to spring forth as to how this law going into effect will impact our community. The changes aren’t immediately obvious but very well could be within the next year.
Dr. Lisa Roark, MD, local physician, business owner and avid proponent of Amendment 2, is currently at work making preparations to open Cassville’s very first medical dispensary. Her company, The Dispensary, LLC has been hard at work since before the amendment passed on election night.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, Dr. Roark met with city council and formally expressed her intent.
“I think a dispensary in Cassville could be very beneficial to our community,” said Dr. Roark addressing city council on Thursday. While she spoke, a 19-page document was distributed to the council. Contained within were letters of non-opposition from several local businesses, Barry County Health Department Administrative Assistant Brianna Meyer, several local residents, and Barry County Sheriff Gary Davis, as well as her rental agreement and several studies on the potential community benefit of medical cannabis.
Sheriff Davis said, “Lisa Roark came to me for a letter of support. I said no, but I gave her a letter of non-opposition. Bottom line is: it’s a state law. I would rather a known entity of Barry County run a dispensary here than Charlie Brown from whoever with who knows what kind of connections.
“Personally, I’m opposed, but my job isn’t to make the laws, it’s to enforce them. Unless it violates the constitution, I’m not going to get to excited about it.”
In the council meeting, Dr. Roark was asked if medical cannabis was addictive. “It’s not addictive as you would expect with alcohol or opiates,” stated Dr. Roark. “When you talk about addiction, you talk about withdrawal symptoms or a desire to keep using it. It’s been compared to the addiction you have with caffeine. If you drink caffeine every morning then, when you wake up you’re going to want to drink caffeine. If you don’t drink that caffeine, you’ll probably feel fatigued or have a headache, or feel kind of cruddy until you drink that caffeine. If you decide to stop drinking caffeine, in a few days, those symptoms go away.”
The council adjourned while agreeing to review Dr. Roark’s request of a letter of support and non-opposition from the city itself. This will be far from the last hurdle that Dr. Roark will have to face before her hopes of opening a dispensary can be realized.
As of right now, the state of Missouri isn’t required to make medical cards or applications for businesses looking to grow or distribute cannabis in any form until June of next year.
“It really depends on when and if I get a license,” explained Dr. Roark. “There probably won’t be any dispensaries up and running in Missouri until December of next year at the earliest. The licensing process is very difficult. For good reasons, I think.”
Dr. Roark’s current planned site for the dispensary, a small space in a storefront on State Highway 76, was carefully chosen. “I have to be at least 1,000 feet away from churches, schools, and licensed daycares,” said Roark.
Under Amendment 2, the state taxes sales and distribution of medical cannabis by 4 percent, with an estimated $6 million going to local governments annually.
“Part of my desire for us to open in Cassville is to help the town,” said Dr. Roark. “I want to keep the money local, from the cultivation to my dispensing.”
Dr. Roark has tentatively expressed her intent to partner with Ozark Green Mountain, a prospective cultivation center out of Shell Knob, currently awaiting their own approval.
“It’s hard to say exactly how many jobs exactly it will create,” explained Dr, Roark. “At least 10 in the dispensary itself but, I’ll need to hire a security team, drivers, and there’s going to need to be some construction.”
Though the legalization of medical cannabis has been seen by many as a tremendous business opportunity, Dr. Roark maintains that her first priority is helping people.
“We’re working on some big decisions right now,” she explained. “We’re not taking investors. I don’t want to be influenced by someone whose main goal isn’t patient care.
That’s why I have my own practice.”
Though Dr. Roark is passionate about the project and it’s utility to the people of Barry County, she is still adamant about serving the community in all her capacities.
“Everybody’s worried I’m going to close the clinic,” she explained, referring to her private practice, Roark Family Health. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m just also going to be the director of a medical dispensary.”