Getting a Medical Card in Arkansas

Updated on November 19, 2021.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in AR

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 Once cultivators and processors became established in Arkansas, the reciprocal agreement with Oklahoma was revoked.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. 

Medical Marijuana in Arkansas (2021 Update)

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. 

FAQs

Who qualifies for medical marijuana in Arkansas?

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:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation, those with characteristics of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation, those with characteristics of multiple sclerosis

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. 

What Medical Marijuanas are Available in AR?

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:

  • Glass Slipper
  • Sour Diesel
  • Mandarin Temple Kush
  • Scott’s OG
  • Commerce City Kush 
  • Member Berry 

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.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get an Arkansas Medical Card?

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

Do I need to create my own MMJ patient profile?

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:

  1. The patient must get a licensed physician to certify that the qualifying health condition(s) have been met. And that the patient may benefit from the use of medical cannabis for symptom management. This also includes a review of medical records and current prescription medications. 
  2. Once the physician-signed certification is received, you will need to have a copy of your Arkansas State ID or driver’s license and the Physician Certification (only the ADH form is required). 
  3. Patients then have to visit the Arkansas Department of Health (DOH) website, complete the application online, and follow the directions. You will need to have a payment method for the $50 registration fee. 

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. 

Can I register my child for medical marijuana?

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. 

How can I become a caregiver for MMJ in Arkansas?

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. 

How do I renew my AR medical card?

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. 

What if I lose my medical card in Arkansas?

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. 

Where do you get medical marijuana in AR?

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. 

When did medical marijuana in Arkansas become legal?

It became legal for patients with a medical card to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary on November 8, 2016. 

The History of Medical Marijuana in Arkansas 

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

 

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Arkansas Department Of Health
Medical Marijuana Section
4815 West Markham Slot 50
Little Rock, AR 72205
Phone: 1-833-214-8619
E-Mail:  adh.medicalmarijuana@arkansas.gov
Website: Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program

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Challenges to the 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.

Arkansas Qualification

Even though Rapert, in trying to delay the program, said that a patient could get a medical cannabis card after “stubbing his or her toe,” that is not on the list of qualifying medical conditions. Patients suffering from debilitating or chronic medical conditions and diseases may participate in the Arkansas medical marijuana program. These include

But even if a patient’s specific condition doesn’t appear on the list, that person may still be able to access medical weed if their doctor recommends it. For more information on Who Qualifies for Marijuana in Arkansas, check our definitive guide.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Laws

Despite the fact that Arkansas medical marijuana will eventually be available to thousands of sufferers of serious health ailments, the penalties for non-medical possession remain some of the harshest in the United States. There has been no movement on the part of state legislators toward any sort of decriminalization or legalization of possession of small amounts of weed. In fact, someone who possesses less than four ounces of pot could be facing a jail sentence of as long as a year and up to a $2,500 fine. If you would like to learn more about Arkansas’ Full Medical Marijuana Laws, MarijuanaDoctors.com has a comprehensive section to keep you informed.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card

The process of obtaining an Arkansas medical marijuana card is still being ironed out. What we knew as of March 2017 is fairly minimal, as the state is still working out the regulations that would govern the issuance of the cards. However, it had been established that a patient would have to suffer from a qualifying condition and obtain a written recommendation from their physician.

The state of Arkansas started accepting registrations for medical marijuana cards in June 2017. The online application is available on the Arkansas Department of Health website.

Check our section on obtaining an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card on a regular basis, and we will provide you updated information as it becomes available.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Facts

Even though 21 states had either decriminalized pot or legalized recreational use, penalties for possessing even small amounts in Arkansas remain extremely harsh. There were a little more than 5,700 marijuana-related arrests in Arkansas in 2012, and 90 percent of those arrests were for possession, according to statistics provided by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

The organization favors decriminalization (preferably legalization) of possession of small amounts of weed, stating that law enforcement efforts would be better served focusing on more serious crimes. If you would like more Arkansas Medical Marijuana Facts, MarijuanaDoctors.com can help you separate fact from fiction.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program: Information

On July 7, 2016, over 100,000 signatures were collected by the Arkansans for Compassionate Care group, effectively placing the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act on the ballot. “We have verified 77,516 valid signatures on the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act petition. Proposal will be on November ballot,” said Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin. The Act would effectively make the medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas state law and would establish a system to regulate the cultivation and distribution of cannabis, for patients who qualify.

However, on October 27, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court officially disqualified the act from the ballot, citing that over 12,000 of the signatures collected to qualify the measure for the ballot, were in fact, invalid. “We conclude that the total number of signatures which should have been counted by respondent falls below the statutory minimum,” ruled Arkansan Justice Karen R. Baker.

On August 31, 2016, the Secretary of State’s office verified the receipt of 97,284 valid signatures, putting the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment measure on the November 08, 2016 ballot.

On November 08, 2016, Arkansas voters voted 53.2% in favor of the constitutional amendment, thereby “making the medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas state law”, effective November 09, 2016.

As per the amendment, registered patients with specific medical conditions who have a medical marijuana recommendation from a certified physician, are legally permitted to possess no more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis.

The Department of Health and the Alcohol Beverage Control Division is appointed to oversee the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program (AMMP).

Although Arkansas is now a legal medical marijuana state, it is still going to take a period of time to establish an operational Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program (AMMP). MarijuanaDoctors.com will continue to update patients on the program’s progress as it develops, so be sure to check back frequently.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program: Possession and Cultivation Regulations

Arkansas law allows medical marijuana patients to possess no more than 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis per the duration of a 14-day period. No cannabis is accessible to patients at this time. Keep checking MarijuanaDoctors.com frequently for current program updates.

The State of Arkansas has a legalized medical marijuana program, which allows patients to receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a certified physician, and apply for a state-issued Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card, permitting the patient to purchase marijuana for medicinal use, as per Arkansas state guidelines.

Since the Arkansas medical marijuana program is still changing their laws and new Arkansas medical marijuana laws are being enacted on a regular basis, please be sure to visit our site frequently to get the most updated laws as it pertains to the Arkansas medical marijuana program. Please click a corresponding link to find out more about the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program. We have compiled the following Arkansas medical marijuana index of information to serve as a medical library to our users for legal reference of Arkansas’ laws, guidelines and program details regarding medical cannabis use in Arkansas.

Please note: In order to become a legal medical marijuana patient you must first have a qualifying condition as outlined by the department of health services and/or department of justice. For a comprehensive list of Arkansas’ qualifying medical marijuana conditions, please visit our qualifying conditions section located on the top of our menu under “legal states”.

Doctors in Arkansas

Learn more about medical marijuana doctors in Arkansas by checking out our listings in your city:

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