Apr 18, 2024 - News

Loosening medical marijuana law could be on Arkansas ballot

Illustration of a red cross made out of marijuana joints.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Arkansans may get to vote on an amendment that would ease regulations on medical marijuana.

Why it matters: The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024 would mostly relax regulations, like allowing medical professionals other than doctors to sign off on medical marijuana cards.

  • It would also allow patients ages 21 and up to grow and process marijuana plants at home and open up eligibility for any medical conditions that a health care practitioner considers debilitating instead of the existing qualifying conditions.

The intrigue: The amendment would create a trigger law, so that if recreational marijuana becomes federally legal, existing dispensaries in Arkansas would be able to sell recreational marijuana it. In that case, adults would be able to could legally possess up to one 1 ounce of marijuana.

Flashback: Voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016; dispensaries began opening in 2019.

  • Voters in 2022 turned down an amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. The amendment drew criticism from groups that support legalization, arguing it gave too much power to a small number of people in the marijuana industry.

Other changes inside the proposed amendment include:

  • Allowing non-Arkansas residents to purchase from Arkansas dispensaries.
  • Requiring criminal background checks for people applying to be patient caregivers, with the exception of parents or guardians seeking to serve as designated caregivers of minor patients.
  • Extending the expiration date of registry identification cards from one to three years and adding two additional years to the expiration date of existing cards.
  • Allowing patient assessments to be performed via telemedicine.
  • Removing card application and renewal fees.

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