Becoming a Patient in Arkansas

Summary

Qualifying patients and designated caregivers can apply to receive Registry Identification Cards from the Arkansas Department of Health with a doctor's recommendation certifying that the patient has a qualifying condition. 

Eligible Conditions

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission allows for the following conditions: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Tourette's syndrome, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain (which has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six months), severe nausea, seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy,  and severe and persistent muscle spams, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. The Arkansas Department of Health may approve additional conditions submitted by petition. 

Application Process

The initial application period is subject to run from June 30, 2017 until September 18, 2017. Potential patients must submit a written certification from their physician that states the physician has fully assessed the patients history and believes the patient has a certain qualifying condition.  This certification must be dated within 30 days of the application. Patients must also submit a $50 fee and a photocopy of their Arkansas driver's license or state ID.  More detail is available in these Rules and Regulations from the Arkansas Department of Health. 

Doctor

A doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathic medicine who hols a valid unrestricted license to practice medicine in the state of Arkansas may recommend cannabis.  The physician must also have an active and current registration with the DEA to prescribe Controlled Substances. 

Minors/Caregivers

A minor cannot be a issued a registry ID card unless a physician documents that they have explained both the benefits and the risks of medical cannabis to the minor's legal guardian. The parent or guardian must consent in writing to allow the minor to use medical cannabis, to assist the minor in the use of medical cannabis, and to control the acquisition, dosage and frequency of use by the qualifying patient. 

Consumption

Child safe packaging is required on all medical cannabis products. Smoking of cannabis is prohibited in the same places that the smoking of tobacco is prohibited, and is prohibited for individuals under 21. Arkansas law also prohibits knowingly smoking cannabis around anyone under the age of 14 or in the presence of a pregnant woman. 

Age Limits

Caregivers must be 21 years of age unless they are a parent of a qualifying patient who is under 18 years of age.  Patients under the age of 18 must get permission to use medical cannabis. 

Confidentiality 

The Department of Health keeps a list of all the people who have been issued registry ID cards. This information is not considered a medical record but it is confidential, and is exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 25-19-101 et seq.  In complying with requests from law enforcement the Department of Health shall verify whether or not a registry card is valid, but not reveal more information than necessary. 

Housing

A landlord is prohibited from refusing to lease or otherwise penalize an individual solely because of their status as a designated  caregiver or patient unless doing so would put the landlord in violation of federal law. However, a landlord may prohibit smoking on their property. 

Employment

An employer is prohibited from discriminating against an individual in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment based on an individuals past or present status as a caregiver or a qualifying patient.  Certain "safety sensitive" positions are exempted from this protection which includes professions that require carrying a firearm, preforming life threatening procedures, working with hazardous or flammable materials and others listed in Arkansas Act 593. Members of the U.S. Military or Arkansas National guard can not be patients or caregivers. 

Other Protections

Medical cannabis patients can not be discriminated against for their use of cannabis in organ transplants, nor can their status as a patient be the sole determining factor for denial of custody or visitation with a child. 

Insurance

Nothing in Arkansas law requires a government assistance program or a private insurer to reimburse a person for the costs related to medical cannabis. 

Out of State Patients

Visiting patients with qualifying medical conditions who are not residents of Arkansas but possess a valid registration card from another state may participate in the state's medical cannabis programs and obtain their medicine from Arkansas Dispensaries.  Visiting patients must  certify that they have been diagnosed to have a qualifying condition and give a copy of their ID card and identification to the dispensary.