Group proposes easing access to medical marijuana in Arkansas after record sales
Arkansas' marijuana business is lush with green.
Driving the news: On the heels of a record year for state medical marijuana sales — $283 million — a group is seeking to get a constitutional amendment on the Arkansas ballot that would relax state laws.
Quick take: The proposed ballot measure drafted by Arkansans for Patient Access would update state law on several key points:
- Allowing patients and caregivers to grow up to seven mature and seven younger marijuana plants.
- Expanding who can certify patients to include physician assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
- Permitting providers to qualify patients based on any medical need rather than the state's 18 conditions.
- Allowing assessments through telemedicine.
- Recognizing patient cards from other states or allowing nonresidents to obtain Arkansas cards.
- Increasing the expiration date for new cards from one to three years.
The proposed amendment also effectively creates a trigger that would allow any adult to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana in Arkansas if it becomes legal under federal law.
Flashback: Arkansas voters rejected a ballot measure for recreational marijuana in 2022. State of play: Tax revenue from medical marijuana was $31 million in 2023 — down from $32 million in 2022 — and topped $120 million since the industry began in mid-2019.
- 6.5% of sales to cardholders and dispensaries goes to the state's general tax revenue — used to pay for state government.
- 4% of all sales to cardholders previously went to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences but now goes to help fund free meals for public school students in need.
By the numbers: There are 38 dispensaries across the state, along with eight cultivators and nine licensed processors.
- The state's 97,000 medical cardholders bought 62,227 pounds in 2023, up 23% from 50,605 in 2022.
- The four dispensaries in NWA accounted for 16.5% of statewide marijuana sales in 2023.
- NWA's sales were up 5.5% last year.
Meanwhile, a dispensary opened earlier this month in Pineville, Missouri, about a half-mile from the Arkansas-Missouri state line. Missouri allows recreational use by anyone over 21.
- It will likely take a few months to see if the new facility siphons any business from Benton County's two dispensaries.
What's next: Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin is expected to provide feedback on the proposed amendment language on Monday, Axios learned by email from Stephen Lancaster, a lawyer representing Arkansans for Patients.
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