During a recent special meeting, the Alexander City Council approved the construction of a marijuana dispensary to be located near the intersection of Arkansas 5 and Alexander Road. 

All members of the council voted in favor, except Elizabeth Bland, who was absent. 

Natural State Medical Group, the corporation planning to open the dispensary, first spoke at the Alexander Planning Commission meeting where the commission recommended the project go before the full council. 

Both the commission and council were able to ask questions of the group's representatives, including Dr. James Adametz. 

Alexander Mayor Paul Mitchell said the city departments, including fire and police, are all on board with the new business coming into the city. 

He believes the tax revenue and new jobs the dispensary will generate will be good for the city. The city has a 3-cent sales tax, with 1 cent going to the fire department, 1 cent split between the parks and police departments and 1 cent used for the general fund. 

He said Alexander does not have the businesses Benton and Bryant have because it is smaller. 

According to Mitchell, Ademetz told both the council and commission that where medical marijuana is legal the use of opiates decrease.

"Opioid addiction is terrible," Mitchell said. 

The council had to call the special meeting for the vote because the group will be going before the state commission that approves dispensary applications Sept. 18, only two days after the council's regularly scheduled meeting. 

"We kind of had to push for it faster," Mitchell said. 

He thinks the group needed the location approval for the presentation. 

Mitchell said medical marijuana is highly regulated, and he does not see it any different than someone going to a pharmacy. He added it can be used to treat glaucoma, PTSD and other ailments. 

He likes that it is located on Arkansas 5, away from residential areas and in the most northern part of the city. Mitchell said the old funeral home building the business  will be moving into is a nice building. 

Adametz told the council and commission that the dispensary would start by bringing in 10 jobs, but may add more in the future. 

The group has an agreement with Circle K, which was originally interested in the property, that after it buys the land Circle K has the option to buy the corner of the property for a store. 

Mitchell looks forward to seeing more jobs from that business. 

"That will be two community businesses for us in the city," Mitchell said. 

He added it will also create part-time security jobs Alexander police officers can take when they are off duty. 

Mitchell said Alexander is a growing city that needs jobs for its residents. The city has 300 new homes and several new apartments. 

Eventually, Adametz said the group may grow a small number of plants on its property. 

The council regularly meets at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month, excluding holidays. Mitchell said the council has no further plans to discuss the dispensary, but if anyone wishes to comment, there will be a public comment period at the end of the meeting. 

All council meetings are open to the public.

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