Fayetteville approves land sale for medical marijuana facility

Staff graphic

Fayetteville could soon be on the ground floor of the state’s medical marijuana industry.

City Council members on Tuesday voted 7-1 to sell 5 acres in south Fayetteville’s Commerce District for $75,000 to Brian Faught, owner of AR-Canna LLC. Faught plans to use the land to build a medical marijuana growing facility if he’s approved for a cultivation license from the state later this year.

Plans call for a 30,000-square-foot cultivation and processing plant and a 5,000-square-foot office complex on Industrial Drive south of Pump Station Road. Faught hopes to hire 35-40 hourly employers at a starting wage of $15 per hour, 3-5 managerial employees with an annual salary of $50,000-$70,000, and two senior managers who’ll make $75,000-$125,000 per year, according to a staff memo.

Faught said he’ll use a Fayetteville architecture firm for the plans and construction drawings of both buildings. AR-Canna will hire a local contractor to oversee all aspects of the construction, the memo states. The land offers enough space, Faught said, to build a second or third cultivation facility as the industry matures.

“We truly believe that AR-Canna will be a welcome and productive member to the Fayetteville business community,” Faught wrote in a letter to aldermen.

Voters in November approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, which legalized medical marijuana and established the Medical Marijuana Commission. The law allows between four and eight cultivation facilities, but the commission in December voted to initially allow five facilities.

2435 S.Industrial Drive / City staff / Enlarge map

The application period for potential facility owners will open July 1, but it could be November before any approvals are in place, Faught said.

The Fayetteville land sale contract is contingent upon Faught’s approval, and will expire at the end of the year if no decision has been made.

Alderman Justin Tennant said he was concerned about the city holding the land until the approvals are in place. Tennant said before the vote he would support the sale, but wished there was a way to sell the land to another buyer if one came forward before the applicant is approved.

Alderman John La Tour was the only council member to vote against the sale. He said he’d rather see the property used by an industry in the technology field. He also told Faught he didn’t understand medical marijuana use, and asked what people did to relieve pain before medical marijuana was legalized.

Faught said that’s not a question for him to answer. Voters in Arkansas – and overwhelmingly in Fayetteville – he said, voted to legalize medical marijuana and his only concern at this point is purchasing land for his business.

Alderwoman Sarah Marsh said the project has great economic potential and she looks forward to the creation of new jobs.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan also praised the project. He said Fayetteville’s 65 percent approval of medical marijuana (during the statewide vote) combined with the fact that the land has sat empty for 25 years led him to support the sale.