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Arkansas

Is weed legal in Arkansas?

Adult-use cannabis is prohibited in Arkansas, though patients with qualifying conditions and their doctors’ approval may consume medical marijuana.

In 2020, the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative failed to receive enough signatures to appear on the general election ballot. If passed, the initiative would have legalized marijuana use in Arkansas for adults age 21 and over. The measure may be revisited in the 2022 election cycle.

Legislation history

Prior to Arkansas’ legalization of medical cannabis, the city of Eureka Springs passed a voter initiative in 2006 to make marijuana crime enforcement a low priority. Fayetteville passed a similar voter initiative in 2007.

Arkansas voters approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA), or Issue 6, with 53% of the vote on Nov. 8, 2016. The law allows seriously ill patients to obtain and consume medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval and establishes licenses for state cultivation facilities and dispensaries.

Regulation authority

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) issues medical marijuana ID cards for patients and caregivers. The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division regulates dispensaries and has issued regulations for dispensing and cultivation. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has also been created under the AMMA to regulate licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities and support the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division in implementing regulations.

Where is it safe to purchase weed in Arkansas?

All medical marijuana products must be purchased through medical marijuana dispensaries registered with the state. Patients must show their medical marijuana ID card to purchase from a dispensary. Caregivers are allowed to purchase medical marijuana for their designated patient, provided they show their designated caregiver registry card.

Finding licensed dispensaries in Arkansas

Medical marijuana cardholders can find licensed dispensaries in Arkansas and search by major metro areas including Hot Springs, Jonesboro, and Little Rock. Many dispensaries in Arkansas offer delivery and curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.

Where is it safe to consume weed in Arkansas?

Arkansas patients may consume medical marijuana only in their homes. Consumption in public is not allowed.

Possession and cultivation limits

No patient or caregiver cultivation is allowed.

Patients and caregivers may purchase up to 2.5 ounces, or 70.87 grams, of medical cannabis every 14 days from one state-approved dispensary. There are restrictions for pain patients, but the ADH can add new conditions for eligibility. All medical marijuana used by qualifying patients in Arkansas must be grown and treated inside state boundaries.

Recreational possession is illegal. Possession of less than 4 ounces, or 113.4 grams, of marijuana on a first offense is a misdemeanor that comes with up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Cultivation is prosecuted as either simple possession or possession with intent to deliver, depending on the amount of marijuana being produced. Possession of less than 14 grams, or half an ounce, is a misdemeanor that carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year and a $2,500 fine. More than 14 grams is considered a felony with penalties depending on the quantity. Any amount greater than 4 ounces carries a mandatory minimum three-year prison term and $10,000 fine.

Medical marijuana program

Qualifying conditions

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Intractable pain, defined as pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six months
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe arthritis
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Severe nausea
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the ADH

Patients suffering from medical conditions that aren’t on the list may file a petition with the ADH to receive access to medical marijuana.

Application process

Prospective medical marijuana patients in Arkansas can register with the ADH online . Both patients and caregivers must pay a $50, non-refundable fee. Caregivers must also pay $37 for a background check. If the caregiver is the legal guardian or parent of a patient who is a minor, the caregiver is not required to undergo a background check or pay the $37 fee.

To qualify, patients must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older (minors may qualify with parental consent)
  • Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
  • Have official written certification from a physician (physicians must certify patients by filling out and signing the ADH-approved certification form)
  • Show proof of Arkansas residency

Members of the Arkansas National Guard and United States Military do not qualify for medical marijuana.

Reciprocity

Arkansas allows medical marijuana patients with valid recommendations from other states to access medical marijuana provided they fill out a visiting patient form and provide proof of out-of-state registration.

Lab testing

The ADH requires cannabis in the state to be tested by an analytical testing laboratory for the following:

  • Microbiological contaminants
  • Solvents
  • Water activity and moisture content
  • Cannabinoid concentrations (CBD and THC)
  • Heavy Metals

Licensing for dispensaries and cultivators

All dispensary applicants must pay a $15,000 application fee, half of which will be refunded to unsuccessful applicants. After applying for a license to sell medical cannabis in the state of Arkansas, applicants must also pay a $15,000 license fee and carry a $100,000 performance bond. Cultivators who are awarded a license must pay a $100,000 license fee and carry a $500,000 performance bond.

CBD and hemp rules in Arkansas

After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill , which legalized hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) and allowed for its cultivation and distribution as an agricultural product, the Arkansas legislature also passed HB 1518 , which decriminalized hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). As a result, hemp-derived CBD is regulated within the state’s medical marijuana program.

This page was last updated on September 14, 2020.

View the marijuana laws & regulations for Arkansas.

Marijuana and the 2020 election

Published October 1, 2020 | By Omar Sacirbey

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With this fall’s general election the U.S. marijuana industry could see its biggest spike in business opportunities since the 2016 election. Back then, four states—California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada—legalized recreational marijuana cultivation and sales through the ballot box, and three more—Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota—approved medical marijuana programs.

On Nov. 3, Arizona, Montana and New Jersey, which all have established medical programs, will hold referendums to legalize recreational marijuana. And voters in Mississippi and South Dakota will vote on legalizing medical marijuana. South Dakota voters will also consider an adult-use marijuana initiative. The passage of most or all of these referendums is more than plausible—and if new markets open, they could create billions of dollars in business opportunities for marijuana entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, federal marijuana policies could change depending on the outcome of the presidential election, as well as 10-15 key U.S. Senate contests. Important U.S. marijuana issues hinging on the election outcome include:

  • Banking reform.
  • Elimination of Section 280Eof the federal tax code.
  • A prohibition on using federal funds to interfere with state recreational marijuana markets.
  • Legalization of medical and recreational marijuana.
  • Greater scientific research involving marijuana.
  • Decriminalization of marijuana use.

Beyond the 2020 presidential and congressional races, marijuana entrepreneurs could see several state legislatures pass recreational marijuana laws, especially if New Jersey legalizes it this year. That state could trigger a domino effect along the East Coast, prompting Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania to follow suit.

Moreover, state-budget shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic could encourage more legislators around the country to embrace marijuana because of its revenue-generating potential.

“As we see further legalization in the first half of 2021, when these states meet from January to May in their legislative processes, by the time Congress is taking up cannabis we could be looking at a very different picture than we are right now in terms of the states, and that will influence Biden’s evolution,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project.

While the future holds the potential for more business opportunities, marijuana entrepreneurs shouldn’t deceive themselves into thinking they will be limitless.

Rather, it’s expected that current medical operators in Arizona, Montana and New Jersey would get first crack at recreational licenses if referendums pass in those states. Meanwhile, Mississippi and South Dakota would be among the smaller medical markets if referendums pass there.

Also, it could be a while before these markets get up and running. Consider Maine: Adult-use sales are scheduled to begin this month, nearly four years after the state’s voters legalized recreational marijuana.

Still, the importance of New Jersey potentially sparking an eastern domino effect and the accompanying opportunities shouldn’t be underestimated. Ditto for the potential passage of medical marijuana laws in Mississippi and South Dakota, where legalization seemed inconceivable less than a decade ago.

In this cover package, Marijuana Business Magazine takes a deep dive into the November elections to give cannabis businesspeople an eagle-eye view of the ballots, elections and issues that are at stake.

The White House and congressional seats are up for grabs as voters in several states consider legalizing new markets.