Robyn Danecki displays a strain of medical marijuana called “Cookies and Cream” on Nov. 25 at the new Purspirit dispensary in Fayetteville.

Northwest Arkansas marijuana patients now have a fourth location to shop for their medicinal products after a new dispensary opened its doors last week.

Purspirit, Fayetteville’s newest medical marijuana dispensary, opened Nov. 20, making it the fourth state-approved dispensary to serve patients in NWA. In its first six days, the dispensary served 556 patients, said Gates KcKnight, Director of Dispensary Operations.

In addition to smoking accessories, non-psychoactive cannabis products and cannabis cookbooks, the dispensary sells marijuana flowers, vape cartridges, edibles, tinctures and concentrates produced by three licensed growers in Arkansas. Most of those products are priced the same or within $10 to equivalent items at the other NWA dispensaries, though some retailers carry a wider or different selection.

McKnight said an intensive two-week training program given to Purspirit “budtenders” – the salespeople/advisors behind the counter – and the customer service those budtenders offer, is what sets his dispensary apart.

“I would rather compete on service than price any day,” McKnight said.

Zane Cash, 34, from Fort Smith, and Tammy Calder, 42, from Huntsville, attended Purspirit’s opening and said they had positive experiences. 

Visiting Purspirit was Cash’s first time in a dispensary, and the help he received from the staff made it less overwhelming than he expected, he said.

“The guy who helped me was really nice, and then a couple other people came over and helped too,” Cash said. “All very friendly and seemed to know what they were talking about. It was all really easy and simple, and I was only in there for 15 or 20 minutes.”

Cash purchased one-quarter of an ounce of marijuana flower, a vape cartridge and some gummies. Cash liked that his budtender gave him a journal to track his physiological responses to the different products he purchased, and he will likely continue to get his medicine at Purspirit, he said.

Calder has visited all four of the dispensaries in NWA – Purspirit and Acanza Health Group in Fayetteville and The Source and The Releaf Center in Bentonville – and was also pleased with her Purspirit budtender’s knowledge and helpfulness, she said. However, she thought the selection could be better, and specifically wanted to see some lower-end, cheaper strains. 

Purspirit carries 22 strains of marijuana flowers, ranging in price from $35-$55 for one-eighth of an ounce, compared to 20 strains for $27-$55 at Acanza, 38 for $27-$35 at The Releaf Center, and 44 for $27.95-$50.95 at The Source.

Timothy Jordan, 37, a concrete company owner from Rogers who visited Purspirit on Monday, said he was also disappointed in the selection and did not think his budtender was very knowledgeable about cannabis, he said. Jordan does not think he will return.

“When I’m going to the dispensaries, I’m really just looking for a nice selection of flower,” Jordan said. “They’re not really impressing me with price.”

Purspirit budtenders are not medical professionals, but they receive two weeks of training and instruction prior to starting work, including a lecture on patient advising from the dispensary’s on-call pharmacist, McKnight said.

McKnight said that despite the competition, regulation, staffing and supply challenges involved in being part of a brand-new statewide industry, he is excited for the future of Purspirit.

“I’m not worried about being number four,” McKnight said. “I think good competition is always good for you. It always makes you better.”

Sarah Komar is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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