In the latest report from the federal government, the average annual spending on medical cannabis in Arkansas jumped by over 152% between 2013 and 2015. Over the course of this four-year period, total spending on cannabis in the state grew from $8.2 million in 2013 to $28 million in 2015.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, passed in 2016, legalized medical marijuana in the state. This year, the state saw the most substantial growth in the number of dispensaries in the nation. Heber Springs was the first dispensary in the state to receive a state license.
In Arkansas, the market for medical cannabis is developing very slowly. In November 2016, a majority of Arkansas voters voted for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. Since the approval, the state has legalized the medicinal cannabis market with some restrictions. The law requires the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to adopt regulations for the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis in the state within 120 days of the amendment. Under the original wording of the bill, they would begin accepting cultivation and issue applications in June 2017, and patient cards would be issued within the same time frame. Unfortunately, in January 2017, the Arkansas legislature passed a law that delays the review of patient applications by two months and commercial licenses by 30 days. Later in the year, the state adopted rules and regulations for testing, labeling and registering cannabis. Although applications for cannabis cultivation and distribution have been pending since June 30, 2017, patients approved under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment will not have access to the drug for the first time until May 2019.
Arkansas increased rates of
Under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, eligible patients must suffer from one or more of the conditions defined in the bill. Under state law, patients who qualify for medical cannabis may purchase up to two and a half ounces of cannabis every 14 days. Medical cannabis products can only be purchased from a state licensed dispensary. Although the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment allows for 40 dispensaries across the state, at the time of writing only 32 dispensaries were in operation. However, there are six more that have been licensed and are in the process of opening. According to statistics on the state’s website, the Arkansas medical cannabis program reported the following in fiscal year 2019.
- 10,773 patients
- 32 operational clinics
- 5 licensed and operating grow facilities
- 167 pharmacy staff
- 168 Preparing the ground
The statistics for FY 2020 show a change for several of these indicators.
- 47,002 patients
- 37 approved clinics, of which only 29 are in operation
- 8 recognized growing regions, of which 5 are active
- 692 pharmacy assistants in service
- 367 Products for soil treatment
The number of patients, staff and licensed facilities are not the only areas that have grown in Arkansas’ medical cannabis program in recent years. As of December 2019, according to media reports, more than 4,200 pounds of medicinal cannabis were purchased in the state in 2019, representing more than $28.13 million in sales. According to media reports in April 2021, during the 31-day period ending on 11. April ended with an average of $900,000 in medicinal cannabis sold per day. Reportedly, the state’s 32 active dispensaries sold 3,730 pounds of cannabis in those 31 days for a total of $27 million.
How taxes are distributed
In September 2020, the 4 percent lien, which applies to both patients who shop at dispensaries and dispensary owners at growers’ homes, brought the state nearly $7.7 million, according to statistics. Proceeds from Arkansas’ cannabis tax will be distributed to Arkansas Health Sciences University to help create the state’s first national cancer institute. The lien was scheduled to expire in July 2019, but has been extended until the end of 2021.
Arkansas’ medical cannabis market is still out of reach for many
Many pharmacies in the state of Arkansas also offer delivery services. Most have a minimum order amount, and some even charge a delivery fee per mile. Since there are only 32 pharmacies in the state, there is not much competition that could help lower prices for patients. This led to numerous appeals to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. Commission spokesman Scott Hardin says his office only oversees aspects of supply and demand and has no direct control over prices for patients. He acknowledged that the plan and hope had always been that with the arrival of new pharmacies, competition and accessibility would lead to lower prices. However, with only 40 licensed clinics in the state, they are already close to capacity. Congressman Jay Richardson of Fort Smith, Arkansas, told the media that he believes more growers are needed in Arkansas to bring down prices in the medical cannabis market. He said the state of Oklahoma, which borders his district, has more than 3,700 licensed growers. In Oklahoma, cannabis patients can find quality medications at much lower prices than in Arkansas. Although Arkansas has a medical marijuana program to give patients access to medicine, it seems they have legalized it by heavily regulating the program for patients, but it is still quite inaccessible to many. Unfortunately, Arkansas also does not allow patients to grow their own cannabis. They must therefore rely on authorised pharmacies, the products they offer and the prices they charge patients. Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur and activist fighting for the abolition of drug prohibition around the world, for a better future for all. Ashley is passionate about sharing knowledge about the divine plant that is cannabis. She believes that one seed can make all the difference and that together, through education, we can end the stigma that prevents cannabis from reaching its full potential worldwide.