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Zen Leaf ushers in medical alternative for south Arkansas

by Marvin Richards | October 23, 2020 at 8:30 p.m.

The Zen Leaf Dispensary, in conjunction with the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 23.

The dispensary provides medical cannabis to certified patients only. Medical marijuana was legalized in Arkansas by a Constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016. To qualify for a medical marijuana card, one must be a resident of the state, have a physician’s certification and have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, of which there are 18, though the list is able to be expanded by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Zen Leaf’s motto reads in part, “We believe cannabis is the most important medicinal plant on Earth, supporting human health, wellness and happiness,” according to the dispensary’s Facebook page.

Zen Leaf has an eye-popping facade as one drives up to the dispensary. The facility has a warm gray exterior with a light-stained wood entrance way that serves as a feature within itself. The light-stained wood continues inside, used at both the guest welcome desk and the access granted only space where patients are able to purchase their medical cannabis. A long thick glass wall with the Zen Leaf logo etched in splits the facility’s entrance from its cannabis service stations.

Just as the building may seem unusual to some in south Arkansas, the idea of medical cannabis being a feature here is also surprising. Especially given how political the topic of cannabis sales, medicinal or recreational, has been within the state.

But Brandon Coleman, general manager of Zen Leaf El Dorado, said he hopes people will embrace a product that is proven to be beneficial for many and has a steadily growing demand.

“When it comes to medicine, the one region in Arkansas that has been dramatically underserved is south Arkansas. And while legislators’ views may be one thing, it is not the patients’ views,” Coleman said. “There are nearly 90,000 (medical cannabis) patients in Arkansas and it continues to grow by the thousands on a weekly basis. That’s not going to change; that’s not going to stop anytime soon.”

Coleman, who is a former Air Force officer and Firefighter, patterned after his father, has experienced first hand the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

“Unfortunately, I had a seizure at work one day and another, then subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy,” Coleman shared. “I had always had a love affair with cannabis… but my start in the cannabis industry started when I got diagnosed with epilepsy.”

The grand opening ceremony was festive with black, gold and silver balloons sprinkled throughout the building. Guests and patients were welcomed with donuts, coffee, and warm energy from the 15 or so employees that operate the dispensary.

Zen Leaf Dispensary is ready to serve El Dorado and the greater south Arkansas community.

“Our goal here is to bring the highest quality medicine access to patients, educate patients on cannabis as medicine and reverse the stigma,” Coleman explained. “My feeling from the community is that they are excited for us to be here and we’re just as excited to serve them.”


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