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TEXARKANA, Ark. — More than three years after Arkansas voters first approved legalizing marijuana for medical use, a clinic and two dispensaries are setting up shop in Texarkana.

In October, AR Cannabis Clinic opened on Jefferson Avenue. And by year's end the two medical marijuana dispensaries — Bloom Medicinals and Red River Remedy — had nearly completed remodeling their buildings and clearing regulatory hurdles, and they were close to opening.

The clinic does not diagnose medical conditions. Based on medical records, it certifies that patients have conditions diagnosed elsewhere that qualify them for medical marijuana use.

Bloom Medicinals is a Florida-based chain of dispensaries with locations in many states. The Texarkana dispensary will be in the former Vincent's liquor store building at 410 Realtor Ave.

Red River Remedy is owned by an Arkansas group and will be in the former Electric Cowboy night club at 4423 E. Broad St.

Medical marijuana patients will have to keep their state registration cards with them at all times, and under no circumstances will taking cannabis across the state line into Texas be tolerated, a Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department spokesman said. Current law and policy on driving while intoxicated will apply to medical marijuana users.

State law also restricts patients' use of medical marijuana. A doctor must certify that a patient has one of about 20 qualifying medical conditions — including cancer, severe arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder — before they can receive a registration card.

Patients must buy medical marijuana from dispensaries and cannot grow their own. Qualified registered patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces from a dispensary every 14 days. Using cannabis is prohibited in public or around children.

The state Medical Marijuana Commission divided Arkansas into eight geographical zones and licensed up to four dispensaries in each. Miller County is in Zone 8, a region of Southwest Arkansas that also includes Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Sevier and Union counties.

Two of Zone 8's dispensaries are slated for Texarkana, one for El Dorado and the fourth for Arkadelphia.

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