Is Weed Legal in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, medical cannabis has been legalized for qualifying patients suffering from serious illnesses. However, recreational cannabis possession and use remains illegal in the state.
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.
After the Arkansas Supreme Court in June 2018 reversed a Pulaski County Circuit judge’s decision three months earlier to block the issuing of licenses, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has since awarded licenses to five cultivation companies. In August 2018, the commission chose Public Consulting Group to grade more than 200 dispensary applications it has received and chose 32 businesses to sell under Arkansas’ marijuana laws. All state dispensary locations that have been granted licenses are listed on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission website, as well as on Weedmaps.
When will dispensaries open in Arkansas? There are a handful of medical marijuana dispensary storefronts open so far, a number that will continue to grow as more of the 32 licensees come online in their respective markets. Four marijuana cultivation and dispensary companies were selected for each of eight zones that span the state.
The state’s medical marijuana program is regulated by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), which 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?
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.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
Arkansas patients may consume medical marijuana only in their home. Consumption in public is not allowed.
Possession & Cultivation Limits
No patient or caregiver cultivation is allowed.
Patients and caregivers may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or 71 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. Under Arkansas’ marijuana laws, medical cannabis must be grown and treated within the state by qualifying medical patients.
Recreational possession is illegal. Possession of less than 4 ounces, or 113 grams, of marijuana on a first offense, is a Class 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 with intent to deliver quantities that are less than 14 grams, or a half-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.
Arkansas’ Medical Marijuana Laws — Qualifying Conditions
Arkansas’s Issue 6 allows the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in the state:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- 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 of Arkansas’ qualifying conditions may file a petition with the ADH to receive access to medical marijuana.
Under Arkansas’ medical marijuana laws, residents can apply to be a patient with the ADH online. Both patients and caregivers must pay a non-refundable $50 fee. Caregivers must also pay $37 for a background check. If the caregiver is the legal guardian or parent of a patient who is younger than 18, the caregiver is not required to undergo a background check or pay the $37 fee.
To qualify, patients must be:
- Be 18 years of age or older (minor patients 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
- Active members of the Arkansas National Guard and United States Military do not qualify for medical marijuana
Arkansas’ marijuana laws currently allow reciprocity, which means medical marijuana patients with valid recommendations from other states can access medical marijuana in Arkansas if they fill out a visiting patient form and can provide proof of out-of-state registration.
The ADH requires cannabis in the state to be tested by an analytical testing laboratory for the following:
- Cannabinoid concentrations (CBD and THC)
- Heavy metals
- Microbiological contaminants
- Water activity and moisture content
Licensing for Dispensaries and Cultivators
Arkansas issued cannabis cultivation licenses to five facilities on July 10, 2018, and retail licenses to 32 dispensaries in August 2018. 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 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
After the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which removed hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from the Federal Controlled Substances Act’s Schedule I, which is a drug considered to have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse, and allowed for its cultivation and distribution as a legal agricultural product, the Arkansas legislature also passed HB 1518, which decriminalized hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). As a result, hemp-derived CBD will not be regulated within Arkansas’ medical marijuana laws.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.
This page was last updated on August 12, 2019.