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Cannabis legalization has come in waves across the whole country. One state to come out the other end with legalized cannabis is Arkansas, where a cannabis card can help you gain access to marijuana. With just over 70,000 patients, this 14-month-old medical marijuana legalized state is slowing scaling up the number of patients with every passing month.
Today cannabis is legalized for a small number of people suffering from a qualifying condition listed in the legislature and beyond that, recreational cannabis is illegal in the state.
So how exactly does one get a medical marijuana card in Arkansas? And what does owning a card entail in “the Natural State” aka Arkansas?
Let’s try and unpack all of it.
Every state has its own regulatory body overlooking the medical marijuana program. In the case of Arkansas, it is the Arkansas Department of Health. This regulatory authority is also responsible for handing out cannabis cards to patients as well as caregivers, ensuring that individuals have access to the care they need. When it comes to dispensing and growing the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division takes center stage. Additionally, there is also an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission in place to regulate the licensing of dispensaries and all cultivation facilities, promoting safety and self-care within the industry. This is a subset of the beverage control division and does not function as an independent body.
So, as per the law, there are only 8 existing cultivators in the state. No more licenses can be handed out unless the existing cultivators fail to meet dispensary requirements. This has not happened yet and it did lead to a lawsuit when new licenses were about to be handed out.
There are 33 operational licenses out of which 22 dispensaries are working right now. You can only buy cannabis from one of these dispensaries. To make a purchase, one needs to show their medical 420 cards. Caregivers are also allowed to make a purchase on behalf of their designated patient but can only do so once they show their designated caregiver registry card.
Issue 6 has a comprehensive list of qualifying conditions in the state of Arkansas. This list includes;
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Severe and persistent muscle spasms including those characteristics of multiple sclerosis
Intractable Pain, explained by pain that does not respond to any medication or treatment
Any condition that is not featured on the list can still qualify for an Online MMJ card by filing a petition with the ADH. They will have a hearing and then decide if or not you will be granted a 420 medical card. All this takes place within 120 days of submission.
If you suffer from any debilitating condition that you feel warrants the use of marijuana then you need to get a medical marijuana card. Now unlike California where all you need is a recommendation by a 420 doctor, the situation in Arkansas is slightly different. There are multiple time-bound steps that you need to complete to get a Cannabis card.
However, before you apply, let’s look at the basic requirements to get a Medical 420 card.
(If you are younger than 18 then you need to have parental consent)
Now, this just can’t be any random physician. To gain access to a 420 Med card the physician must meet the following guidelines,
Before you make your way to the doctor’s office you need to take a copy of the blank patient certification form. Once you are at your doctor’s office you need to get a physical examination by the doctor. It is up to the doctor to determine if or not you are eligible for an MMJ card, You only need one qualifying condition to be eligible for it. An average appointment takes around 15 minutes, Additionally, not all doctors are on board with the idea of medical marijuana so it is up to you to find a 420 doctor.
Once you have the certification in your hand you can then submit it to the ADH. But be vigilant, your certification is only valid for about 30 days. If you fail to submit the application in the allotted time then you will have to get another certification.
The application itself is rather simple, but you do need to submit some additional documents along with it. These include the written certification, a copy of your state ID, or your driver’s license.
The renewal process is pretty straightforward in Arkansas, you have to get reevaluated and submit your application online. But right now due to the ongoing coronavirus, the rules have been eased.
There is no provision under the law that allows patients or caregivers to grow their own marijuana.
You can purchase about 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 71g of medical cannabis from one of the many state-approved dispensaries. Possession of recreational cannabis is still an offense and carries with it a sentence. If you are found in possession of fewer than 4 ounces of marijuana you can go to jail for a year and face a fine of $2,500.
Cultivation is either prosecuted as simple possession or as possession with intent to deliver, in both cases, you have a jail term and a fine attached.
As far as Arkansas is concerned, the only way you can gain access to medical marijuana is with the help of a cannabis card. So, apply for one today.
Also, keep in mind that Arkansas does allow reciprocity. So, you can go to a dispensary once you fill out a visiting patient form and also provide out-of-state registration.