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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.

Arkansas’ 2020 Cannabis Legalization Push Is Over

COVID-19 stopped the petitioning process in its tracks, and the campaign was only able to collect half of the required signatures by this week’s deadline.

Published on Jul 3, 2020 3:20PM EDT Arkansas

Sophie’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Atlas Obscura, City Limits, Edible publications, and more.

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After a long struggle to gather enough signatures by July 3, the push in Arkansas to get adult use cannabis legalization on the ballot is over—for now. COVID-19 all but put an end to the types of gatherings where petitioners typically collect signatures, and a legal conflict over the signature-gathering process only added to the challenges.

“We’re not going to make the ballot. COVID-19 killed it,” said Melissa Fults, executive director of Arkansans for Cannabis Reform. Fults told Cannabis Wire that at their last count, they have between 30,000-40,000 signatures, but would have needed over 89,000 for the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment to qualify for the ballot. “It was just one of those years,” Fults said. “That’s all I can say is, it was just one of those years, unfortunately.”

The campaign announced in a Facebook post last Saturday that legalization would not be on the 2020 ballot and they cited COVID-19, as well as a lack of funding and volunteer participation, as contributing factors. Fults told Cannabis Wire that because many of the campaign volunteers were medical cannabis patients, she discouraged them from being in public, worried that any underlying health conditions would put volunteers at a higher risk.

“I couldn’t have them out there and take the risk of one of them contracting it and getting deathly ill and dying,” she said.

The constitutional amendment would have legalized the use of cannabis for adults 21 or older, including limited home cultivation. It would have authorized the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration to regulate the program and to license at least one commercial retail establishment per county in the state. And it would have directed tax funds to early education and after school programs, and to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Medical cannabis was legalized in 2016 in Arkansas, but the first dispensary didn’t open until 2019. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state Senator Cecile Bledsoe have lent their support to a campaign opposing adult-use cannabis called “Just Don’t Sign.” They did not respond to Cannabis Wire’s requests for comment.

“It is a very conservative state. Our legislature is very conservative,” said Fults. “However, the people support it. They support it within reason. They want rules and regulations and they don’t want to walk outside and their neighbor has a yard full of plants growing.”

Arkansans for Cannabis Reform is an initiative led by the Drug Policy Education Group, a nonprofit that also campaigned for a second ballot amendment this year that would have expunged some cannabis-related convictions.

Also hampering the campaign’s efforts were ongoing changes to the signature-gathering process in the wake of COVID-19. After a number of campaigns suspended in-person signature collection due to health concerns, one group, Arkansas Voters First, filed a lawsuit on April 22 that would lift certain signature gathering requirements, like requiring a witness, notarization, and in-person signature.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes temporarily waived these restrictions through a preliminary injunction, which allowed campaigns, including Arkansans for Cannabis Reform, to collect signatures remotely, including by mail. The state appealed the ruling, and in the meantime, the less restrictive rules for signature collection are on hold, but the lawsuit is ongoing. The changing legal predicament made it more difficult for Fults and her team to collect signatures.

According to the campaign’s Facebook post and Fults, the’ Drug Policy Education Group is shifting its focus to opposing Issue 3 on the November 2020 ballot, which places significant restrictions on the process by which citizen-initiated initiatives, referenda, and constitutional amendments are submitted and approved.

Fults says she and other campaigners plan to join forces with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML, to support a campaign for adult-use next year.

COVID-19 stopped the petitioning process in its tracks, and the campaign was only able to collect half of the required signatures by this week’s deadline.