Hot Springs pot facility fined for odor, light, noise violation

An image taken from video on the Arkansas Citizens Access Network shows the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board discussing citizen complaints against Leafology, 261 Amity Road, on Nov. 15. (Arkansas PBS YouTube channel via The Sentinel-Record)

HOT SPRINGS -- Odor, noise and light coming from Garland County's only licensed medical marijuana cultivation facility prompted a complaint to Alcoholic Beverage Control, the agency that regulates the state's roughly $300 million legal cannabis industry.

ABC provided a copy of the complaint signed by about three dozen residents who live near Leafology, 261 Amity Road.

"This is having an adverse effect on the apartment complex, commercial businesses and the value of our homes, not to mention our personal quality of life and health," the complaint said.

In 2020, the Medical Marijuana Commission awarded Leafology one of eight cultivation licenses allowed by the state constitutional amendment that legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. ABC said Friday that no issues concerning odor from any licensed growers had been raised until residents near Leafology complained.

A copy of the Aug. 22 order ABC provided showed the agency assessed Leafology a $15,500 fine and a 15-day suspension for violations in January and February that included failing to control odor from growing activities. Agency rules require growers to build facilities that keep odor, light and noise contained on-site.

"We are dealing with various issues in relation to the business," the complaint said. "The smell of marijuana, noise from the 10 growing bays which house six fans per bay for a total of 60 fans and the outside security lights which light up the sky at night."

The ABC Board of Commissioners upheld $10,500 of the fine at Wednesday's appeals hearing. The 15-day suspension was dismissed. ABC said Friday that Leafology had paid $5,000 of the initial penalty prior to the hearing. That amount related to the violation for losing track of 9,237 grams of medical marijuana.

"All medical marijuana facilities in Arkansas are required to eliminate any external odors that might be a nuisance to the public," ABC said. "We are hopeful that Leafology will take corrective action to eliminate their current problem and comply with Arkansas law. If not, we will fulfill our duty to Arkansans and take further disciplinary action."

Leafology's attorney told the board the odor problems were related to a freeze and hailstorm that froze pipes and compromised a roof, allowing odor to escape.

The residents said the fine paled in comparison to Leafology's revenues. Making the grower relocate would be the most effective action, they said.

"I understand the noise, the smell and concerns about your property values," Commissioner Steven Smith told residents who attended Wednesday's hearing. "We here cannot do anything about moving the facility. We can work on the smell and the noise."

The board encouraged the residents to report odor issues if they continued.