Although medical marijuana is not yet available for Arkansas patients, patient ID cards went into effect on February 15, 2019. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission began mailing out ID cards to qualifying patients, and over 7,000 patient ID cards have been approved.
Patients who have a qualifying medical condition and a physician's written certification can apply online.
Recently, the Medical Marijuana Commission awarded licenses to 32 retail medical marijuana dispensaries and five medical marijuana cultivators. Cultivators are expected to have product available for dispensaries by April. Hopefully, Arkansas patients will not have to wait much longer for relief approved by voters over two years ago.
Despite the progress achieved so far for patients, Arkansas still has some of harshest marijuana laws in the country. Possessing marijuana should not be punishable by jail time, and other states – including Mississippi, North Carolina, and Missouri – have decriminalized marijuana. Ask your legislators to impose a civil fine on marijuana possession. Together, we can bring marijuana policy reform to Arkansas.
In March, an unsuccessful applicant sued the state, claiming that the Medical Marijuana Commission’s scoring process was flawed and that two of the commission’s members had conflicts of interest. The judge sided with the unsuccessful applicant, and the state’s rollout of the medical marijuana program was put on pause.
Yesterday, the Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a dispute over Arkansas’ medical marijuana program. The program has been stalled since lawsuits were filed over how licenses were awarded. We learned that one commissioner was even offered a bribe from a company seeking a cultivation license.
No matter who wins this case, it’s Arkansas patients who are losing out. We hope that these legal matters will be concluded in a timely matter so that patients may have access to the medicine they need.
In other disappointing news, the Little Rock Board of Directors voted down a proposal last Tuesday to make marijuana possession the lowest enforcement priority for law enforcement.
Patients and caregivers can begin enrolling in Arkansas’ medical marijuana program now, although cards will not be available for some time.
If you are a qualifying patient, you can go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and enroll online, or you can mail in your application. Patients must submit a written certification form filled out by a physician, a photocopy of their Arkansas state-issued ID, and a nonrefundable $50 application fee. Caregivers must also undergo a $34 criminal history check. Note that due to an amendment to the program by the Legislature, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not permitted to enroll in the program as either patients or caregivers.
While patients can apply for program enrollment now, their ID cards will not be issued until 30 days before medical cannabis actually becomes available from dispensaries for purchase. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission estimates that dispensaries should be open by the end of the year or early 2018. You can learn more about the dispensary application process here.