Arkansas Department of Health
4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867
Website: Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program
Update: In June 2017, the state of Arkansas started accepting registrations for medical marijuana cards. Though there are currently no licensed dispensaries within the state of Arkansas, medical marijuana is likely to be available for legal purchase in 2018. Patients may apply online or submit a paper application. Instructions for applying for medical marijuana are available on the Arkansas Department of Health website.
The Arkansas Department of Health has 120 days from date of passage, to adopt and implement the regulations and rules necessary to operate the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program. The law requires that a Medical Marijuana Commission be established to regulate licensing requirements for cannabis cultivation centers, and medical marijuana dispensaries and clinics.
The Arkansas Patient Registry application fee is yet to be determined. Once established, the Arkansas Marijuana Registry will be mandatory.
Medical marijuana in Arkansas received a huge boost in November 2016 with the voter-approved Issue 6, also known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. The initiative, approved by a margin of 53%-47%, allows patients suffering from serious illnesses to have access to medical cannabis with the approval of their physician.
It also allows for the issuing of between four and eight licenses to cultivation facilities, and the creation of as many as 40 dispensaries throughout the state. However, it does not permit cultivation. The Arkansas medical marijuana program is to be regulated by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
On February 27, 2018, the state of Arkansas released information about 5 cultivation licenses that had been issued after considering 95 applications across the state for cultivation and 200 dispensary applications since October 2017. Cultivation licenses were issued to Natural State Medicinals (Jefferson County), Bold Team LLC (Woodruff County), Natural State Wellness Enterprsies (Jefferson or Jackson County), Osage Creek Cultivation (Carroll County), and Delta Medical Cannabis Company Inc. (Jackson County).
While the passing of the initiative was a welcome event for many patients who wanted medical marijuana in Arkansas, there are some limitations. For example, landlords can prohibit on-site smoking of pot on their property. As in most other states that allow medical weed, patients in Arkansas need to obtain a registry card to legally possess cannabis.
As of March, 2017, the state was still in the process of adopting rules in regard to how cards would be distributed, as well as regulations that would govern both cultivation and dispensary facilities. It was expected that patients would not be able to access legal medical marijuana in Arkansas until the end of 2017 at the earliest. But as we’ve seen in other states, developments surrounding legal medicinal cannabis can change quickly, so check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com on a regular basis for updated information.
Again, there are many details that need to be ironed out before the Arkansas medical marijuana program goes into full effect. The state’s Medical Marijuana Commission is a five-member panel that is responsible for issuing dispensary licenses. As of this writing, the commission had yet to begin accepting applications for those licenses and had yet to set the fee for those applications. The most it can charge for an application, per the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, is $7,500.
To obtain legal medical marijuana in Arkansas, a patient must first receive a written certification from a physician stating that the patient has a medical condition that qualifies under the program. That patient must then apply for a registry card issued by the state that will permit them to purchase weed from a dispensary. The card would also provide protection against legal action should a law enforcement officer see that the patient possesses marijuana.
In a state as traditionally conservative as Arkansas, it’s not surprising that there was vehement opposition to the medical marijuana initiative. Fortunately, the amendment cannot be repealed without it being put to another statewide vote. However, the state legislature has the power to change certain portions of the amendment through a two-thirds vote. But legislators are not allowed to change the provisions that legalize medical cannabis use, nor can they change the number of dispensaries that will be allowed to operate in the state.
One opponent of the amendment, Republican state senator Jason Rapert, proposed a bill in the 2017 legislative session to try and delay the medical cannabis program until the federal government legalized marijuana. This was a rather blatant attempt to basically stop the medical cannabis program from even getting off of the ground since there is absolutely no indication that the federal government will change the classification of weed any time soon. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Thankfully, the legislation failed. In fact, it was not even voted upon by a Senate committee.