Marijuana became illegal in the state of Arkansas in 1923. It joined other states in ensuring weed became outlawed across the United States. Ever since then, possession of under four ounces of cannabis has been considered a misdemeanor. The punishment is a possible one-year jail term and a maximum fine of $2,500.
A subsequent offense (1-4 ounces) is a Class D felony that could lead to six years in prison. However, the state’s attitude towards the herb has softened over the years. In Eureka Springs and Fayetteville, citizens voted to make adult possession of weed the lowest police priority. Residents of Arkansas were invited to vote on the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2012. However, it was defeated by less than 3%.
Finally, in November 2016, Arkansas legalized medicinal marijuana when 53% of residents voted ‘yes’ on Issue 6. Though it is an established program, not everyone knows how to get an MMJ card. This guide gives you the details.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas: The Complete Rundown
The Medical Marijuana Act didn’t take effect for several months after legalization. In June 2017, the state began accepting registrations for MMJ ID cards via the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). Before we proceed, please note that you must be a resident of Arkansas and provide proof of residency. You must also be 18 years old with one of the qualifying conditions we mention later in the guide.
Step 1 – Schedule an Appointment with a Qualified Physician
You will not be able to get an MMJ card in Arkansas without written certification from a licensed physician. The physician in question must meet the following criteria:
- A doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed in Arkansas
- In good standing to practice medicine in the state
- Have a controlled substance license on file with the DEA
- Have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with you
Before you visit the physician, print out the blank patient certification form. Once at the doctor’s office, hand over the form, and you will go through a physical examination.
Then, the doctor will decide if you are eligible for an MMJ card. It is only necessary for the physician to certify that you have one qualifying condition. Some patients claim the appointment doesn’t last more than 15 minutes. It is up to you to find a marijuana-friendly physician because the ADH does not maintain a special list.
Step 2 – Submit Your Application to the ADH, and Hurry!
The certification you receive from the doctor is only valid for 30 days, so you need to submit your application as soon as possible. If you fail to do it within the allotted time frame, you must get new certification. Go to the ADH website to complete the online form.
You also have the option of downloading the form and sending it via regular mail.
The application itself is rather straightforward, and all of the requirements are clearly laid out. Along with the Physician Written Certification, you need a photocopy of your state ID or driver’s license.
Step 3 – Find the Nearest Dispensaries
The ADH does not specify how long you can expect to wait for your MMJ card. However, it does state that your card will be valid for one year. You can buy up to 2.5 ounces from a licensed dispensary every 14 days. The program is relatively broad. You can purchase oils, tinctures, flower products, edibles, concentrates, topicals, pills, and vape liquids.
You Can Now Turn to Specialty Cannabis Card Clinics in Arkansas
Initially, it was a challenge to find a physician ready to approve MMJ in Arkansas. This all changed in October 2019 when the Arkansas Marijuana Card clinic opened in Fayetteville. It became the first specialty medical marijuana card provider in the state of Arkansas.
The organization has since opened similar clinics in a variety of locations across the state. Typically, patients bring their medical records to the clinic as evidence of a qualifying condition. However, the clinic has a medical records team to help patients without documents to track down their information. The fee for the clinic’s service is $260, but you have the option to split it into two or three payments.
What Are the Medical Cannabis Card Costs in Arkansas?
The cost of applying to the ADH for an MMJ card is $50, a non-refundable fee. The price associated with a doctor’s consultation varies from $120 to $260. Doctors tend to charge $150 or less if you are one of their ‘established’ patients. You may also pay $100 as a follow-up fee with some providers. It costs $50 to renew your card.
If you are a caregiver, you must pay $37 for a background check. This fee is waived if the caregiver is the legal guardian or parent of an MMJ patient aged 17 or younger.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions Required to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas?
The list of qualifying conditions is detailed:
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Severe arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Cachexia/Wasting syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Intractable pain that hasn’t responded to traditional forms of treatment over a period of six months
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Seizures such as those associated with epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms such as those associated with MS
If you don’t have one of the above medical conditions, you are still potentially eligible. You need to petition the ADH for consideration of your illness. The department will have a hearing and decide whether they will approve or deny your petition within 120 days of submission.
Other Important Information on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana License Process
The above information should provide you with everything you need to apply for medical marijuana in Arkansas. However, there are a few additional rules and regulations you must know. Each state has its unique MMJ program quirks, and Arkansas is no different.
My Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card Has Expired. How Do I Get a Renewal?
You must renew your MMJ card in Arkansas every 12 months. Give yourself plenty of time to apply.
Once I Have My Arkansas MMJ Card, Where Can I Buy Marijuana?
As part of the Medical Marijuana Act, a list of 32 dispensaries became available in February 2019. Suite 443 had the honor of becoming the first dispensary approved to operate in Arkansas. It opened in May 2019. At the time of writing, there are 33 dispensaries currently in Arkansas.
Once I Have My MMJ Card, Can I Grow Marijuana?
Sadly, registered patients and their caregivers are not allowed to grow their own weed. However, there is a little-known provision to consider. You can apply to the Department of Health for a Hardship Cultivation Certificate. You can grow cannabis in Arkansas if you have this certificate. However, you must also live more than 20 miles from a non-profit marijuana care center. There is relatively little information on this process available at present.
Is There a Reciprocity Agreement?
Yes! If you are a registered patient in another state and have a valid MMJ card, you can obtain cannabis from a licensed dispensary if visiting Arkansas. The fee for visiting patients is $50. It is non-refundable and enables you to buy MMJ in the state for 30 days.
Bear in mind that you must have your MMJ card on your person at all times. Once the card expires, you lose your legal protection. Therefore, make sure you reapply well in advance of the deadline, so there isn’t a gap in coverage.
Who Can Use Medical Marijuana in Arkansas?
Arkansas law has several requirements prospective MMJ patients must meet. Here is a reminder of the general guidelines:
All MMJ patients in Arkansas must be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions. You can view a detailed list above.
To benefit from the full MMJ program, you must be a resident of Arkansas and provide proof of residency.
All MMJ patients in Arkansas must be at least 18 years of age. Minors need parental consent. Also, you cannot smoke cannabis unless you are aged 21+.
There is no set rule that states you must undergo other forms of treatment before applying. However, most doctors will not approve applicants if they haven’t tried a different kind of medication or therapy beforehand.
You can only use a physician with whom you have a ‘bonafide’ relationship. This term can mean different things, depending on the state. However, it usually means you need to have seen the doctor about another matter before applying for MMJ.
Who Are Designated Caregivers & What Do They Have to Do?
This is an individual who is selected by a qualifying patient. They are authorized to possess, purchase from a licensed dispensary, dispense, and aid the patient in the consumption of medical marijuana. Caregivers must apply for a registry card and can buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed on behalf of the patient.
Qualifying patients aged 17 or under must get one of their parents or a legal guardian, to register as a caregiver on their behalf.
Caregivers in Arkansas are allowed to serve more than one patient with a qualifying condition. For the record, employers in the state are not allowed to discriminate against an individual for being a caregiver. It means they can’t refuse to hire or decide to terminate a contract based on that person’s past or present status as a caregiver.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere in Arkansas?
You have the freedom to purchase different types of marijuana. However, Arkansas lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits you from using medical cannabis anywhere that tobacco is also banned. You are not allowed to smoke weed if under the age of 21. Also, you cannot knowingly smoke marijuana in the presence of a pregnant woman or anyone under the age of 14.
As a result, the use of medical marijuana is banned in the following locations:
- On the grounds of preschools
- Primary or secondary schools
- On a school bus
- In any motor vehicle
- In a correctional facility
- Inside private residences licensed to provide childcare
- Any public place