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story.lead_photo.caption Customers walk into the Bloom Medicinals facility on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at 410 Realtor Ave. in Texarkana, Arkansas, for the grand opening of the medical marijuana dispensary. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Medical marijuana dispensary Bloom Medicinals opened at noon Wednesday, making it the third local cannabis business in operation.

A handful of customers were at the dispensary when it opened for the first time, waiting to purchase the drug that many say is a safe alternative for treating a variety of ailments.

"If a plant product can help solve the opioid crisis, that's great," said Assistant Manager Wendy McLeod.

The dispensary offers cannabis in a variety of forms, including the plant and products made from it such as vaping liquid, edibles and concentrates. Customers must have a qualifying condition such as cancer or severe arthritis and be certified by a doctor to buy cannabis at the dispensary — or even enter the building.

Bloom Medicinals' Texarkana dispensary is the Florida-based company's seventh, joining five locations in Ohio and one in Maryland.

"Our goal is to bring safe access to medical marijuana and be a positive addition to nearby communities. Bloom Medicinals strives to be a socially responsible organization with a goal of improving the quality of life and well being for our patients and those around us," the company told the Gazette in October.

The business joins another dispensary, Red River Remedy, and a condition-certifying clinic, AR Cannabis Clinic, as Texarkana's latest medical marijuana business.

City Manager Kenny Haskin welcomed the new businesses and praised their operations so far.

"We have been very impressed with the commitment shown by each to ensure safe operations that comply with all state and local regulations," Haskin said.

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.

Bloom Medicinals is in the former Vincent's liquor store building at 410 Realtor Ave. Business hours are noon to 7 p.m. daily, except Sundays and Tuesdays.

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