On November 8, 2016, 53% of Arkansas passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. Under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment program, patients will be able to purchases up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis every 14 days from one of up to 40 dispensaries in the state (no patient cultivation is allowed). While the qualifying conditions language has harsh restrictions on access for pain patients, the Department of Health (DOH) can add new conditions and improve the pain condition language. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division will be regulating dispensaries (DOH regulates the patient component) and must issue regulations for dispensing and cultivation in 120 days after passage and begin accepting applications June 2017. Under the law DOH is required to issue patients cards in 120 days of passage.
In January of 2017, the legislature passed legislation that would delay the patient applications by 60 days and delay the business licenses by 30 days. However, the legislature also removed restrictions on physicians having to certify that a patient’s use of medical cannabis would outweigh the harms. In May of 2017, the state implemented Rules and Regulations for the Registration, Labeling and Testing of Cannabis.
The state Medical Marijuana Commission began accepting applications for those growing or supplying cannabis opened on June 30, 2017, and began serving patients in May of 2019.
The bulk of the medical cannabis program in Arkansas was implemented by the voter led Issue 6. Issue 6 as it appeared on the ballot allowed for the legal use of medical cannabis under Arkansas law. It established a system for growing, acquiring and distributing medical cannabis while providing protections to patients and physicians. The amendment also created the Medical Marijuana Commission consisting of 5 members.
After voters approved Issue 6, there was a flurry of legislative activity to implement a medical cannabis program in Arkansas. Twenty-four bills were signed into law.
Act 1: Integrates the provisions of Issue 6 into the Arkansas Constitution as Amendment 98
Act 4: Amends the dates for the Department of Health's Rulemaking. These rules have been published.
Act 5: Defines written certification as an assessment of a qualifying patients condition in the course of a physician-patient relationship and specifies that an application for an ID card is not considered a medical record.
Act 438: Prohibits physicians from issuing certifications through telemedicine
Act 440: Designates that if cannabis, or a cannabis derived substance is rescheduled under federal law, Arkansas will consider the federal government's recommendation.
Act 479: Prevents members of the Arkansas National Guard and current members of the U.S. military residing in Arkansas from being patients or caregivers.
Act 544: Amends the definition of what is an excluded felony offense under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment
Act 545: Requires criminal background checks for caregivers and applicants for dispensary and cultivation licenses
Act 587: Provides rules for temporary licensing and changes of control of dispensaries and cultivation facilities
Act 593: Creates protections for employees and prevents employers from taking adverse action against a patient or a caregiver solely for their status relating to medical cannabis. This bill still allows employers to create their own workplace drug policies.
Act 594: Sets fees and expiration dates for ID cards for dispensary and cultivation agent facilities.
Act 638: Creates and funds the Medical Marijuana Commission
Act 639: Allows for the collection o fines for the violation of Amendment 98
Act 640: Requires rule-making for the oversight of dispensaries and creates restrictions on advertising
Act 641: Only allows a transfer of a dispensary license to a natural person
Act 642: Sets up licensing procedures for individuals who transport, distribute, or process cannabis
Act 670: Medical cannabis is subject to all state and local sales tax as other goods. Revenues generated shall be transferred to the Arkansas medical Marijuana Implementation and Operations Fund.
Act 740: Prohibits smoking in public places and other restrictions as to where individuals cannot use their medicine.
Act 906:- Creates appropriations for Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program
Act 948: Requires the reporting of qualifying patients and dispensing data to the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Data base
Act 1022: The importation of seeds, cuttings, clones or plants by a dispensary or cultivation facility shall not be prosecuted in state courts. This bill does not remove any authority from federal courts located in Arkansas
Act 1023: Prohibits cannabis from being sold in vending machines and creates guidelines for restrictions on edibles and packaging.
Act 1024: Requires dispensaries to make vaporizers available for patients
Act 1098: Allows for a 4% special privilege tax on medical cannabis. This tax is paid by the cultivation facility, dispensary, or other businesses.
Act 1100: Establishes security requirements for cultivation facilities.
Rules and Regulations
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has adopted the following rules and regulations: