Medical Marijuana Remains the Only Legal Marijuana in Arkansas
Legal marijuana use in Arkansas remains limited to people with state medical marijuana cards after voters last year rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have authorized adults 21 and older to possess the drug.
At last count, 89,855 people had medical marijuana cards in Arkansas, according to the Health Department’s report released this week.
Those cardholders spent $23.2 million in November at the state’s 38 dispensaries, buying 4,489 pounds combined of marijuana. Overall, in 2022 people bought 50,547 pounds of marijuana, spending $276.3 million on the product.
The state of Arkansas collected over $32 million in state tax revenue from marijuana in 2022. Just over half of that amount came from sales taxes charged at the counter. The rest came from a privilege fee dispensaries pay when buying marijuana from cultivators.
Arkansans purchased their first legal marijuana in 2019. Since then, cardholders have spent $276.3 million on marijuana.
“Overall, more than $753 million has been spent to purchase 123,650 pounds of medical marijuana since 2019,” said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, in an email distributed last week to media outlets.
Issue 4 Spending
Year-end reports show that the campaign supporting Issue 4 on the 2022 ballot spent $14.1 million on its efforts to legalize marijuana in Arkansas, according to financial documents filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Opponents, including those who support a different method of legal marijuana sales in the state, spent over $2 million combined.
Despite the loss at the ballot box, legalizing marijuana in Arkansas remains a hot topic. Past sponsors of medical marijuana ballot issues said after the November election that they would submit a different proposal in coming months.
What Conditions Qualify for Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas?
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana cards in Arkansas remains the same as when voters approved the constitutional amendment. No additional conditions have been added by the Health Department.
|Conditions covered are:
|Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
|Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Also included are:
- Intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
- Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- and any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health
Note: Legislation passed in 2017 prohibits members of the Arkansas National Guard and the United States military from having a medical marijuana card.
Find more information about medical marijuana cards at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/medical-marijuana-faqs#Questions%20about%20Medical%20Conditions.
Marijuana Laws Across the Country
Arkansas was an early adopter of medical marijuana in the southern states after a citizen-initiated amendment passed in 2016. Since then, every state surrounding Arkansas has legalized medical marijuana for specific conditions.
Overall, 37 states have a process for medical marijuana sales. There are also 21 states (plus two territories and the District of Columbia) where non-medical marijuana sales and possession are legal.
Marijuana was on the ballot in multiple states in November 2022, including in Missouri where the state's voter-approved law took effect in December.
The new law allows anyone 21 and older to buy and possess marijuana and calls for expunging arrest and conviction records of non-violent marijuana offenses. Starting next month, adults can also apply for a license to grow a limited number of marijuana plants.
Find more information about each state's marijuana laws at https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/legal-medical-marijuana-states-and-dc/.
What Does An Ounce of Marijuana Look Like?
Although Arkansas cannabis sales numbers have been reported in pounds, medical marijuana cardholders aren't buying by the pound.
Arkansas law limits the amount of marijuana a cardholder can purchase from a dispensary to 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period.
Marijuana for sale is typically measured in grams. One ounce is 28 grams. Below is an image of one ounce of marijuana.
Image Source: https://www.insider.com/guides/home/weed-measurements