Brian Chilson
ASK ETHEL: Annie Iselin, left, and Ryan Kenaga discuss the Ask Ethel initiative at the Arkansas Times Cannabis and Wellness Expo.

A group of Arkansas cannabis industry employees and advocates will host six events around the state on Saturday to educate the public about medical marijuana and try to lessen its stigma. 

The initiative, called “Ask Ethel,” will host events from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday in Conway, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Heber Springs and Texarkana. The events will feature a moderator and doctors as well as patients who will speak about their cannabis use and answer questions. 

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The doctors will not be providing certifications on site but will be available to answer questions or set up appointments, according to event organizer Annie Iselin, senior director of operations at Cotton Plant cultivator BOLD Team. 

Iselin said she hopes the events, which do not require attendees to be medical marijuana cardholders, will teach people more about cannabis and correct misinformation. Iselin said she hopes attendees learn about aspects of cannabis beyond the psychoactive THC, such as terpenes and the “entourage effect” in which all of the plant’s components work together to benefit the user. 

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Iselin said “a good portion” of Arkansas cannabis users don’t want to feel high and that there are a lot of products on the market for those consumers. 

Iselin created the organization last fall and quickly brought in Ryan Kenaga, president at Fort Smith cultivator River Valley Relief. Today, most of the state’s cultivators, processors and dispensaries are working on the initiative too. 

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Despite working for competing cultivation businesses, the two cannabis professionals said it’s important for the industry to set competition aside to promote the plant and educate the public. While speaking together on stage at the Arkansas Times Cannabis and Wellness Expo last week, Iselin praised the products Kenaga has made at River Valley. 

Arkansas regulations prevent the state’s cultivators from marketing directly to the public but, with the “Ask Ethel” events, Iselin, Kenaga and others will be representing themselves and not their companies, Iselin said.

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This Saturday’s events will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations: 

  • Hilton Garden Inn at 2400 Sanders Road in Conway 
  • White River Landing at 5241 S. Shaeffer Road in Fayetteville
  • Between CROP dispensary and Sugar Magnolia at 2929 S. Caraway, Suite 2 in Jonesboro
  • Holiday Inn at 5200 Convention Plaza Dr. in Texarkana
  • Heber Springs Community Center, Room 3, at 201 Bobbie Jean Lane in Heber Springs
  • Hampton Inn and Suites at 511 Mallard Loop in Pine Bluff