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Justice

Ark. marijuana panel OKs rule allowing hiring of consultant

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas panel has approved a rule that would allow it to hire an outside consultant to help review and score hundreds of applications the state has received from businesses that want to sell medical marijuana.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Thursday approved a rule that would allow hiring an outside consultant for reviewing the dispensary applications it has received. The panel can award 32 licenses under a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

Officials on Tuesday formally awarded five licenses to grow medical marijuana. The state Supreme Court last month reversed a lower court decision that had prevented Arkansas from awarding the licenses.

The rule change is expected to go before lawmakers next week.