About Cannabis in Arkansas
Like so many U.S. regions, the Land of Opportunity State placed a checkbox on the 2020 November Election ballot asking citizens to vote yes or no on the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative. If passed, Arkansas will be added to the list of states who first legalized medicinal marijuana before legalizing recreational marijuana. The measure to make cannabis legal came with opposition. In June, KATV reported that the Supreme Court ruled, due to COVID-19 and a lack of canvassers, citizens could sign the petition asking for the ballot question. It worked, with up to 23,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, medicinal cannabis has been allowed in Arkansas since November 2016, when the measure Issue 6 gained 53% approval, specifically for seriously ill patients who are prescribed drugs for chronic pain. Since then, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment has added dozens of conditions to the list of qualifying conditions.
Qualifying Conditions in Arkansas
There are more than a dozen conditions in Arkansas that make residents eligible for a medical cannabis card and they include:
Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Arkansas Department of Health are also included. Unlike some states that have approved medical cannabis for qualifying conditions, Arkansas allows patients to petition the Department of Health asking for their specific condition to be added to the list. However, not any doctor can certify patients with qualifying conditions. According to state regulations, a “medical provider must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed in the state of Arkansas, have a controlled substances license on file with the DEA, be in good standing to practice medicine in Arkansas, and have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the patient they are certifying for medical cannabis.”
The state of Arkansas has a payment plan available for prospective patients who cannot afford to cover the cost of the license. The state reports, “we offer a variety of payment methods, including monthly payment plan options and discounts for veterans, as well as referral discounts to those who spread the word about our services.” If approved, after a patient’s first appointment, they receive up to 12 months of free follow-ups.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), prospective patients with medical marijuana in Arkansas may register online with the ADH. A $50, non-refundable fee must be paid by both patients and caregivers. Caregivers are also required to pay $37 for a background check.
To qualify, patients must:
- 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
- Show proof of Arkansas residency
Medical marijuana is not qualified by members of the Arkansas National Guard and the United States Military.
Becoming a Caregiver in Arkansas
As outlined by the Arkansas Department of Health, to be eligible for an Arkansas medical cannabis caregiver card, the applicant must be at least 21-years-old, provide care for the patient or minor, not have a felony conviction, and have a state license or identification card proving a place of residence. A caregiver must pay for their criminal history check that costs $37. However, legal guardians of a minor do not have to complete a Criminal History Check but must pay for the caregiver registry card application fee.
Becoming a certified medical caregiver for cannabis is a great chance for Arkansas nurses and home health care providers to incorporate cannabis into the treatment of patients. The caregiver is permitted to enter, possess, buy and pass medical cannabis from the dispensary to the patient in this position. The caregiver may need to help the patient in some instances with product choice, dosing, journaling, and medical cannabis administration. Patients and caregivers will be able to access laboratory-tested medical cannabis goods that can be titrated and incorporated into traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy, with adequate practice and education.
Pediatric patients’ parents and guardians are needed to become caregivers on behalf of their child. Appointed caregivers, like patients, must also register for an ID card with the Arkansas Department of Health. The caregiver must submit their own information and the patient information they will assist when applying for an ID card. A signed declaration must also be submitted by the caregiver stating that they will not divert marijuana to individuals other than their patient.
Unlike some states, Arkansas also allows a caregiver to hold more than one card for each respective patient they monitor. A caregiver can also hold a medical cannabis license themselves while holding multiple caregiver cards.
Possession and Cultivation Limits in Arkansas
Patients are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis every two weeks, which must be purchased at from a state dispensary listed under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act. Like the patient, a specified caregiver also has permission to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis for the patient they monitor. Caregivers are not legally allowed to consume any medical cannabis prescribed for the patient only. Licensed Nonprofit Cannabis Care Centers distribute medical marijuana to patients in Arkansas.
According to marijuana laws in Arkansas, those who qualify for a Hardship Cultivation Certificate (based on financial need) may cultivate up to 10 plants. Arkansas enacted Issue 6 in November 2016 with the assistance of 53 percent of voters to legalize medical marijuana. Issue 6, also known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, provides a scheme for qualifying patients to grow, acquire and distribute marijuana. Patients must have a written certificate to obtain access to cannabis for medical reasons from a registered physician in the state. Cultivation at home is not allowed.
It is illegal in Arkansas to grow marijuana for recreational, medical or research reasons. In 2017, House Bill 1778 was endorsed by the Arkansas State General Assembly (which ultimately became Act 981), establishing the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act. The legislation developed a study program to explore the hemp production’s environmental and economic potential. It enables the State Plant Board to allow growers to engage in a 10-year study program on industrial hemp.
The state of Arkansas allows for visiting patient applications, allowing out-of-state residents that have a certified medical cannabis license to obtain a 30-day card to purchase cannabis. Processing time for an application is 10 to 14 days, so visitors should assure they have ample time to fill out the application for approval before traveling into the state.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, all applicants must provide a state issued driver’s license or identification card to prove their place or residence or they are not eligible for a card.
The first and most important step is to schedule a physician appointment with Veriheal. All medical records are uploaded and evaluated by the physician and if you are approved, he or she will recommend certification after the appointment.
From start to finish, the physician consultation does no take longer than 15 minutes.
Veriheal has a very high approval rate for medical cannabis licensure. However, if you are not approved, you will be refunded in full.
Arkansas considers chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.
Dispensaries in Arkansas have slowly begun to open up all over the state. Once you have your Arkansas medical marijuana card in hand, you can shop at a licensed dispensary.
Patients with an Arkansas medical marijuana may consume it only at home. Public consumption is not permitted. Currently, there is no permitted patient cultivation.