Oct 26, 2022 - Politics

What's in Arkansas' recreational marijuana amendment

Illustration of a marijuana leaf on a background with ballot elements.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Issue 4 on Arkansas' 2022 midterm election ballot, if passed, would allow people ages 21 and older to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries for any reason, rather than requiring a medical marijuana card.

State of play: Voters legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas in 2016, and dispensaries began opening in 2019.

  • The state has 38 operating licensed dispensaries and allows up to 40 — as many as five in each of the eight zones. Eight cultivators exist in Arkansas, the maximum allowed by the state, Scott Hardin, spokesperson at Arkansas' Department of Finance and Administration, tells Axios.
  • Additionally, 18 dispensaries, including The Source in Rogers, ReLeaf Center in Bentonville and Acanza in Fayetteville, grow some of their own product.

By the numbers: About 92,000 Arkansans have medical marijuana cards, according to Hardin. Arkansans spent $205 million on medical marijuana during the first nine months of this year.

  • Medical marijuana is taxed at 10.5%, including a 6.5% sales tax and a 4% privilege tax that goes toward establishing a cancer research institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. This means medical marijuana generated more than $21.5 million in taxes so far this year.

Details: In addition to allowing people to legally purchase marijuana, the amendment would:

  • Make it legal for people ages 21 and up to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
  • Eliminate all taxes on medical marijuana and tax recreational marijuana at 16.5%, including the standard 6.5% sales tax plus 10% for UAMS, law enforcement and the state's drug court programs, which are voluntary drug recovery programs intended to keep people facing drug charges out of jail.
  • Increase the allowed number of dispensaries and cultivators.
  • Allow dispensaries to sell items such as pipes and bongs.
  • Increase the number of mature marijuana plants a medical marijuana dispensary may grow at one time from 50 to 100 plants.

Learn more from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

What's next: If recreational use is approved in November, the state's first step will be issuing recreational licenses to all existing medical marijuana dispensaries. Those dispensaries will be allowed to sell medical and recreational marijuana at their existing businesses and may open second locations anywhere in the state, Hardin said.

  • The state will then launch applications for 40 additional recreational dispensary licenses and 12 additional cultivators.
  • In total, the state will have up to 120 dispensary locations where you can buy recreational marijuana.

Between the lines: The amendment does not decriminalize growing marijuana for personal use or private sales of marijuana.

Go deeper: Read the full amendment.


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