Updated on November 19, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Arkansas was one of the few states to create a cross-border reciprocal agreement. When the medical cannabis program first launched, Arkansas struggled to cultivate enough cannabis for patients with a medical card. The state had issued sufficient licenses, but the license holders had not commenced operations. And there was a critical medical cannabis shortage.
Registered patients were permitted to visit Oklahoma to visit medical marijuana dispensaries. Once cultivators and processors became established in Arkansas, the reciprocal agreement with Oklahoma was revoked. And patients in Arkansas were reminded that crossing the state border with cannabis is a federal offense.
Arkansas lawmakers are ready to launch a new adult-use program in Arkansas. However, the AR House of Representatives is divided on introducing recreational cannabis.
One advocate organization called “Arkansas True Grass” is collecting signatures to put recreational cannabis legalization on the 2022 voter ballot. Part of the proposed legislation for adult use is mass expungement for all Arkansas residents with current or past cannabis possession charges. Expungement only applies to charges for small quantities of cannabis (personal use), first-time offenders, and non-violent crimes without weapons involvement.
Cannabis at dispensaries in Arkansas is more expensive than it is in neighboring states. Advocates and patients hope that the legalization of adult-use (recreational) marijuana will increase competition and make cannabis products more affordable for patients.
Residents of the state of Arkansas who are aged eighteen (18) years or older can apply for a medical card. Every person who applies for a medical card in Arkansas has to have at least one of the qualifying health conditions.
In 2021, the following health conditions can make a patient eligible for a medical card in Arkansas. A provision allows a physician to recommend medical cannabis to a patient for other health conditions not listed.
Patients must be formally diagnosed with one or more than one of the following chronic health conditions:
Patients who are visiting Arkansas can apply for a temporary medical card. The patient must be a medical cardholder in their home state. The visiting patient must complete an application form and pay a $50 fee. If the application is approved, the visiting patient can purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas for a period of thirty days. Patients visiting for longer than thirty (30) days can make additional applications to extend legal permissions.
Patients with an Arkansas medical card can purchase whole flowers (smokable), edibles, vape oil, topicals, and concentrates. Arkansas has not limited the types of cannabis products that are available to patients registered in the medical cannabis program.
Some of the most popular strains of cannabis in Arkansas include:
Patients with an Arkansas medical card can buy up to 2.5 ounces or 71 grams of cannabis every 14 days from a single state-licensed dispensary. You must present your Arkansas medical card and another piece of government-issued photo identification to purchase products at a dispensary.
Patients must be eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time that they apply for a medical cannabis card. Minors with debilitating health conditions require a designated caregiver for assistance. Unlike other states, Arkansas also allows minors to apply independently if they have written parental consent.
Patients applying for a medical card in Arkansas must create their own patient profile. In some cases, if you are using a medical card health evaluation service in AR, the practice will submit your application for you.
Arkansas has made it fast and easy for patients to apply in just three steps:
In many cases, if a patient does not qualify for a medical card, the physician or practice will refund part or all of the fee for the evaluation appointment. Patients can inquire before scheduling if the practitioner has that refund policy. Best practice is to ensure that you have been formally diagnosed with at least one of the qualifying health conditions before you find a doctor for your certification.
There are two ways for minors with a qualifying health condition. The first option is to register a caregiver. That is an adult over 21 years who is a legal guardian or parent to assist. The caregiver will have their own card after completing an application and registration process.
The second option for minors is to get a letter of consent from a guardian or parent. This is usually accepted for patients aged 16-17 or on the cusp of the legal age of majority. This can also be an option if the child is self-supporting and no longer living at home.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) requires that caregivers are registered with the statewide medical cannabis program. A caregiver must be aged twenty-one (21) or older with no prior criminal charge or conviction involving a controlled substance. Caregivers must pay a $50 registration fee and an additional $37 for a criminal background check as part of the application process.
The Arkansas Department of Health (DOH) suggests that patients begin to renew their annual medical card a minimum of thirty days before expiration. This helps to avoid delays. If your Arkansas medical card expires, you will not be able to legally purchase or possess medical cannabis.
In Arkansas, the expiration date of your medical card will depend on the physician. For most patients, there is a one-year expiration date. However, some physicians may authorize a shorter period of time. For example, a patient recovering from major surgery may be authorized for only six months.
Renewal of the Arkansas medical card is done online. Patients need a new and updated Physician Written Certification, a valid AR driver’s license or state identification card, and a credit or debit card. The cost of renewal is $50 for patient applications and $87 for caregiver renewals. It can take up to fourteen (14) days to process the medical card renewal.
If you applied for your Arkansas medical card online, you can log into the patient portal and your AMMsys account and download and print your own replacement card. Once you print the new card, your old card becomes automatically null and void. If you find your old card, you will not be able to use it at a dispensary.
For patients that applied for their medical card by mail have to fill out a change of address or lost card form. It can be mailed to the Arkansas Department of Health. However, mailed in requests for a replacement take much longer. They are fulfilled after first-time requests for new medical cardholders are processed.
In Arkansas, patients with a medical card can visit a local state-licensed dispensary to purchase medicinal cannabis products. Patients with a medical card have a maximum amount of cannabis they can buy on a monthly basis.
Every time a patient purchases cannabis at a medical dispensary, the amount is recorded. This is to help patients avoid purchasing more than the legal limit. Dispensary websites allow you to log in to a secure patient portal to check purchase limits.
It became legal for patients with a medical card to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary on November 8, 2016.
1973—Arkansas criminalizes cannabis use along with several other states. At the time, there were no clinical studies or evidence to support that marijuana was harmful. But between 1923 to 1925, most states in America had criminalized cannabis use.
Source Web 2021: ganjapreneur.com
2006—Residents of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, voted 64% to make cannabis prosecutions the lowest priority for police. In 2008, residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas, followed suit by a vote of 62% in favor of reducing cannabis arrest rates and penalties. Unfortunately, a report in 2019 from the Arkansas Justice Collective discovered that cannabis arrest rates had increased in Fayetteville, AR, after the new decriminalization measures passed.
Source Web 2021: stopthedrugwar.org
November, 2012—The first medical cannabis initiative failed in Arkansas. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act (Issue 5) was placed on the ballot and defeated, with only 48.6% of residents voting in favor. The original draft of the legislation allowed patients with a medical card who lived more than five miles from a dispensary to cultivate cannabis for personal use at home.
Source Web 2021: ballotpedia.org
Arkansas Department Of Health
Medical Marijuana Section
4815 West Markham Slot 50
Little Rock, AR 72205
Website: Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program
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 with 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.