Arkansas Cannabis Law

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For the latest information visit the Arkansas ADH website – https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/medical-marijuana-faqs

A Guide to Arkansas Cannabis Laws

Arkansas drug laws allow some discretion by the court, with the possibility for up to one year of incarceration for possession of small amounts. The state also imposes mandatory minimum sentences for possession of more than 10 pounds or sale of more than 4 ounces. Possession of more than 500 pounds is considered trafficking, or “presumption of intent” to traffic.

Voters approved passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment , known on the ballot as Issue 6, on Nov. 8, 2016. The measure removes criminal sanctions against those who use medical marijuana under doctor’s orders, although dispensaries and cultivation centers have yet to be developed.

Patients who want access to medical marijuana must apply with the state, including a written certification from a physician licensed in the state.

The Arkansas medical marijuana program is open to everyone, but minors aged 18 and under can only apply for or purchase marijuana via a caregiver. Typically, the caregiver will be a parent or guardian.

Qualifying Illness

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • and any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health

What’s Allowed

  • Possession: Up to 2.5 oz. of usable cannabis.
  • Cultivation: Those who qualify for a Hardship Cultivation Certificate (based on financial need) may cultivate up to 10 plants.
  • Dispensaries: Non-profit Cannabis Care Centers will be licensed to distribute medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana ID card?

The following are required when submitting your application:

  • The patient registry application form.
  • The completed Physician Written Certification.
  • Photocopy of the front of your Arkansas-issued driver’s license or state ID on a full sheet of paper.
  • The non-refundable application fees.
  • Your registry identification card will be valid for up to one year from the date it is issued. Your card may be issued for less than one year if designated by your physician.
  • Applications for Arkansas medical marijuana card may take up to 14 days to process, and it is valid for one year or as designated by the physician. The Department of Health recommends that medical marijuana cards be renewed 30 days before expiration.
  • Note that members of the Arkansas National Guard and the United States Military cannot apply for medical marijuana in Arkansas.

Medical Marijuana ID card – Renewal?

  • You can renew your card up to 60 days prior to your card’s expiration date.
  • You need the same documents for new applications and renewals:
  • The patient registry application form.
  • A new Physician Written Certification. Your previous certification cannot be used.
  • Photocopy of the front of your Arkansas-issued driver’s license or state ID on a full sheet of paper.
  • The non-refundable application fees.
  • It may take up to 14 working days to process your renewal from the date we receive your application and payment. Incomplete applications or applications with errors will be returned and will take longer.

I live in another state, can I apply?

  • To apply as a visiting out-of-state patient, you must have a medical marijuana card or equivalent from another state. In addition, the condition(s) for which you were approved in another state must also be a condition(s) approved in Arkansas. You can submit an online application https://mmj.adh.arkansas.gov/
  • The non-refundable application processing fee is $50. Application processing time is up to 14 working days after you submit your application and payment. After your application is reviewed, you will receive an e-mail alerting you to log back in and print your card. Visiting patient cards are issued for 90 days per application.

Can I use medical marijuana anywhere in Arkansas?

  • No. Using medical cannabis is prohibited in a school bus, on the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school, in any correctional facility, in any motor vehicle, in a private residence used at any time to provide licensed childcare or other similar social service care on the premises and in any public place where an individual could reasonably be expected to be observed by others. A public place includes all parts of buildings owned in a whole or in part, or leased, by the state or local unit of government. A public place does not include a private residence unless the private residence is used to provide licensed childcare, foster care, or other similar social service care on the premises. Using medical marijuana is also prohibited in a health care facility or any other place where smoking is prohibited by the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 and knowingly in close physical proximity to anyone under the age of 18.
  • The best place to consume medical marijuana is in the privacy of your home.

Are registry identification cards from other state medical marijuana programs valid in Arkansas?

  • A visiting qualifying patient may obtain marijuana from a dispensary with approval as a visiting patient.
  • Complete the visiting patient application here.
  • A visiting patient application is $50.00 (non-refundable). If approved, a visiting patient may purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas for a 90-day period, per application.

Will I be given a temporary card while my application is being processed?

  • The Arkansas Department of Health does not issue temporary medical marijuana cards. Patients who apply online can print a copy of their cards after their applications are reviewed and approved.

Which medical physicians can certify me for medical marijuana?

  • The 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 United States Drug Enforcement Administration (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.

When does the physician certification expire?

  • The physician certification is valid for 30 days from the date the doctor signs the form. If a patient gets a certification and fails to submit it to the ADH within 30 days, they must get a new certification.

Can I grow my own medical marijuana?

  • No. Qualifying registered patients and their designated caregivers cannot grow or cultivate medical marijuana. Marijuana-infused products must be purchased through the licensed Arkansas medical marijuana dispensaries.

How much medical marijuana may I possess as a qualified registered patient?

  • Qualified registered patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces from a dispensary in a 14-day period. Each individual purchase counts against the patient’s balance for 14 days; the patient balance does not reset every 14 days. Patients who apply online can check their real-time balance by clicking the battery icon in the top right corner of the home page after they log in.

Designated Caregiver

  • A designated caregiver is a person who is selected by a qualifying patient as the person authorized, on the qualifying patient’s behalf, to possess, obtain from a certified medical marijuana dispensary, dispense, and assist in the administration of medical marijuana. Caregivers must apply for a registry card. A designated caregiver is issued a medical marijuana registry identification card that allows him/her to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana on behalf of their patient. It is not legal for caregivers to consume, by any means, medical marijuana that has been dispensed on behalf of a registered qualifying patient. A criminal background check is required for most caregiver applicants. Parents applying to be caregivers for their own children do not have complete a criminal background check.

Patient Possession Limits

  • Patients who possess a physician’s recommendation may legally possess and obtain medical cannabis provided by state licensed dispensaries. Patients under the age of 21 are not permitted to consume herbal forms of cannabis. Inhaling herbal cannabis is not permitted by adults in the presence of a pregnant woman or a child age 14 or under. Dispensaries may not provide cannabis-infused food or drink products with more than 10mg of THC. They may not provide cannabis-infused edible products that are “modeled after non-cannabis products primarily consumed by and marketed to children.”

Employee Protection

  • You may be wondering if your employer can take action against you because you possess or use medical marijuana. Well, Arkansas medical marijuana law states that “An employer shall not discriminate against an applicant or employee in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee, based upon the applicant’s or employee’s past or present status as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver.”
  • However, the law does not stop employers from implementing a drug-free workplace policy. It’s best to speak with your employer for clarity.

Where Can I Buy Medical Marijuana?

  • According to Arkansas MMJ laws, you can only buy from a licensed dispensary. If you buy from any other source, you are not protected by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act. In addition, you must show your medical marijuana card at the dispensary before making a purchase. Caregivers can purchase marijuana on behalf of the patients they represent.

Are Edibles Legal in Arkansas?

  • If you prefer edibles, they are available at licensed dispensaries. However, don’t expect to find them in the colorful packaging.
  • AR medical marijuana laws prohibit manufacturers from making edibles that are “likely to appeal to minors,” including “candy, cookies, and brownies.” You’re likely to find dark-colored gummies tablets instead of colorful little bears, hard candies, which are basically a harder form of gummies, and chocolate bars.

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Arkansas?

  • If you don’t have a medical marijuana card, it’s best to avoid cannabis because recreational marijuana is illegal in Arkansas, and possession can incur stiff penalties.
  • Possession of fewer than 4 ounces or 110 grams is a Class A demeanor and carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one-year imprisonment. For offenders with two existing convictions, possession of 1 ounce or 28 grams is a Class D felony which attracts a fine of up to $6,000 and a maximum of six years in prison.
  • First-time offenders who are caught with up to 4 ounces or 110 grams face a fine of up to $2,500, imprisonment of up to a year, and mandatory suspension of their Driver’s license for six months.
  • As you can see, the penalties for recreational use of marijuana in Arkansas are stiff. Avoid it altogether.
  • On the bright side, the legalization of recreational marijuana is on the horizon as efforts are ongoing to get recreational marijuana legalized in Arkansas. The coronavirus pandemic handicapped a 2020 petition to put the question to voters.

CBD and Hemp Rules in Arkansas

  • Arkansas law aligns itself with US federal law regarding CBD and hemp. A few years ago, the government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill legalized hemp and hemp products as long as they don’t contain more than 0.3% THC. Thus, CBD products derived from hemp that doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC are legal in Arkansas.

Arkansas Cannabis Cultivation Center Licenses

  • To run a cultivation center for marijuana, you must apply to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission and fulfill the following requirements before your application for an Arkansas cultivation license can be considered:
    • Be 21 years or older
    • Be a current resident who has been a resident for seven consecutive years prior to the application
    • Have not held a prior license for cultivation or dispensary, which has been revoked
    • No felony convictions
    • Have up-to-date tax records
    • Own no other cultivation facility in the state

Arkansan Cannabis Advertising Law

  • Arkansas Act 928 of 2019 (now codified as Ark. Code Ann. 20-56-305) provides, among other things, that:
  • A cultivation facility shall not advertise through any public medium or means designed to market products to the public; and
    • A cultivation facility may market products directly to a dispensary by any means directed solely to the dispensary and not available to the public.
  • The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division enforces the rules governing the medical marijuana industry, including those pertaining to advertising. At present, the agency’s resources are focused largely on inspecting dispensaries, providing access to medical cannabis for patients in all corners of the state. However, prudent operators should anticipate that regulatory attention may soon turn toward advertising and marketing. We expect for ABC to roll out detailed rules that expound upon the two bullet points above. Rulemaking should provide clarity for cultivators, but in the meantime, caution is advised.
  • Cultivators must verify that communication and marketing tactics reach dispensaries only and ensure that communication tactics cannot get into the hands or meet the eyeballs of the public. Patient drive events cannot be sponsored by cultivators because, in this scenario, cultivators are directly communicating with members of the public about their medicine. A standard website won’t be compliant for a cultivator, but there is a complaint way to have a website. The standard use of social media is not complaint, but there are certain ways to use social media that are compliant.
  • Patient education remains an important responsibility of the cultivators. Mandatory testing and labeling provide clarity on the specifics of cannabis medicine sold by dispensaries, but many patients lack basic understanding needed to decipher the labels. Cultivators have the information. Dispensaries have the patients. The conduit connecting the two is a variety of compliant marketing and communication tactics.
  • Cultivators would be banned from advertising to the public, and dispensaries would be heavily restricted.
  • Dispensaries would not be allowed to use symbols such as cartoon characters that might attract children, and TV, radio, print and internet advertising could target only audiences that are less than 30% children.
  • Dispensaries would be prohibited from advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center.
  • A cultivation facility shall not advertise through any public medium or means designed to market products to the public.
  • A cultivation facility may market products directly to a dispensary by any means directed solely to the dispensary and not available to the public.
  • (1) Advertising for medical marijuana by a dispensary shall not:
    • (A) Contain a statement that is deceptive, false, or misleading;
    • (B) Contain any content that can reasonably be considered to target children, including without limitation:
      • (i) A cartoon character;
      • (ii) A toy; or
      • (iii) Any other similar item or image typically marketed to children;
    • (C) Encourage the transportation of medical marijuana across state lines;
  • (D) Display consumption of marijuana;
    • (E) Contain material that encourages or promotes marijuana for use as an intoxicant; or
    • (F) Contain material that encourages excessive or rapid use or consumption of medical marijuana.
    • (2) Advertising and marketing for medical marijuana shall include at least one of the following statements:
      • (A) “Marijuana is for use by qualified patients only. Keep out of reach of children.”;
      • (B) “Marijuana use during pregnancy or breastfeeding poses potential harms to an unborn child or child.”;
      • (C) “Marijuana is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”; or
      • (D) “Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of marijuana.”
    • (3) A dispensary shall not make any deceptive, false, or misleading assertion or statement on any informational material, any sign, or any document provided to a consumer.
    • (4) A dispensary shall not place or maintain, or cause to be placed or maintained, any advertisement or marketing material for medical marijuana in the following locations:
      • (A) Within one thousand feet (1,000′) of the perimeter of a public or private school or daycare center;
      • (B) On or in a public transit vehicle or public transit shelter; or
      • (C) On or in a publicly owned or operated property.
      • (D) A dispensary shall not utilize television, radio, print media, or the internet to advertise and market medical marijuana, unless the dispensary has reliable evidence that no more than thirty percent (30%) of the audience for the program, publication, or website in or on which the advertisement is to air or appear is reasonably expected to be under eighteen (18) years of age.
      • (E) Upon request by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, a dispensary shall provide the evidence relied upon to make the determination that no more than thirty percent (30%) of the audience for the program, publication, or website in or on which the advertisement is to air or appear is reasonably expected to be under eighteen (18) years of age.
    • (5) A cultivation facility or dispensary shall not offer any coupons, rebates, or promotions for medical marijuana purchases, unless offered as part of a compassionate care plan presented to the Medical Marijuana Commission as part of the application for licensure.
    • (6) A cultivation facility or dispensary shall have no more than three (3) signs visible to the general public from the public right-of-way that identify the cultivation facility or dispensary by the business name of the cultivation facility or dispensary.
      • (1) A sign shall not exceed thirty-six square feet (36 sq. ft.) in length or width.
  • (2) A sign shall be placed inside the window of the cultivation facility or dispensary or attached to the outside of the building of the cultivation facility or dispensary.
    • (3) A sign shall not display any content or symbol that:
    • (4) Is commonly associated with the practice of medicine or the practice of pharmacy, including without limitation:
      • (i) A cross of any color;
      • (ii) A caduceus; or
      • (iii) Any other symbol that is commonly associated with the practice of medicine, the practice of pharmacy, or health care in general.

Possession (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-4-401, 5-64-419, 5-64-440 (2019)

Less than 4 oz

  • Class A misdemeanor.

1 oz or more but less than 4 oz

  • when the defendant has four previous convictions for a Schedule VI drug possession, is a Class D felony.

4 oz or more but less than 10 lbs

  • Class D felony.

10 pound or more but less than 25 pounds

  • Class C felony.

25 pounds or more but less than 100 pounds

  • Class B felony.

100 pounds or more but less than 500 pounds

  • Class A felony.

500 pounds or more is considered trafficking

  • Class Y felony.

Delivery (Sale), Cultivation, and Trafficking

(Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-4-401, 5-64-406, 5-64-436, 5-64-438, 5-64-439, 5-64-440 (2019)

14 grams or less

  • Class A misdemeanor.

More than 14 grams but less than 4 ounces

  • Class D felony.

4 ounces or more but less than 25 pounds

  • Class C felony.

25 pounds or more but less than 100 pounds

  • Class B felony.

100 pounds or more but less than 500 pounds

  • Class A felony.
  • Additional penalties apply for delivery of marijuana to a minor (younger than 18). Depending on the circumstances, the court may double or add ten years to the underlying sentence.

Paraphernalia (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-64-443, 5-64-444 (2019)

  • Arkansas makes it illegal to use drug paraphernalia or possess drug paraphernalia with intent to use it. Paraphernalia includes items that are used to:

Plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, prepare, or repack a controlled substance

  • Class D felony,

Store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance

  • Class A misdemeanor, or

Ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the body a controlled substance

  • Class A misdemeanor.
  • It’s also a crime to deliver drug paraphernalia to a person under age 18 who is at least three years younger than the defendant. If the drug paraphernalia is delivered in furtherance of a felony violation, the offense is a Class B felony. In all other cases, it’s a Class A misdemeanor.

Criminal Penalties (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-401 (2019)

  • Penalties for marijuana-related crimes range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class Y felony with the following potential punishments.

Class A misdemeanor

  • punishable by up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.

Class D felony

  • punishable by up to six years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.

Class C felony

  • punishable by three to ten years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.

Class B felony

  • punishable by five to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.

Class A felony

  • punishable by six to 30 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.

Class Y felony

  • punishable by imprisonment from ten to 40 years, or for life.

Hemp State Law Authority & Background (Ark. Stat. Ann. § 2-15-401 et seq.)

  • Creates the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Program including a 10-year research program.
  • Authorizes the State Plant Board to adopt rules to administer the research program and license growers.
  • Requires the State Plant Board to provide an annual report starting Dec. 31, 2018.
  • Allows the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to work with the State Plant Board.
  • Establishes a separate program fund, which will include feeds collected and other sources of funding

Taxes

Sales Tax – Medical Marijuana

  • The sale of usable marijuana is subject to Arkansas state and local sales taxes at the same rate as other tangible personal property. “Usable marijuana” means the stalk, seeds, roots, dried leaves, flowers, oils, vapors, waxes and other portions of the marijuana plant and any mixture or preparation thereof.

Excise Tax – Medical Marijuana (Ark. Code Sec. 26-57-1504(a))

  • Effective July 1, 2017, a cultivation facility, dispensary or other marijuana business is required to collect and remit an Arkansas medical marijuana special privilege tax of 4% from the gross receipts or gross proceeds derived from each sale of usable marijuana. See. The Medical Marijuana Special Privilege Tax is imposed in addition to regular sales tax.

Does the State impose a Stamp Tax or Controlled Substances Tax?

  • No.

LICENSING

Dispensaries

Cultivation Facilities

5 will be awarded in the state, selected by merit

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