Arkansas Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS ARKANSAS'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 04/06/2022
Since legalizing medical cannabis in Arkansas, the Department of Finance and Administration has recently reported that in 2022, cannabis sales in the state hit the $400 million mark. With more than 59,000 pounds of medical cannabis sales, it seems that the cannabis program is off to a successful start. Since launching, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (ADFA) has reported close to $50 million in tax collections with around $47 million collected in 2021 and 23 million since January of 2022. Currently, medical patients pay a regular state sales tax of 6.5% and a “privilege” tax of 4.0% for each cannabis sale. The state tax revenue is distributed to a variety of state agencies and services, while the privilege tax goes to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) for the National Cancer Institute.
Meanwhile, local advocates for recreational cannabis in the state, such as Arkansas True Grass, are proposing a system of regulated sales for adult-use. This effort to introduce the adult-use program to Arkansas will be proposed for the 2022 ballot. Previously, the group attempted to introduce these regulations in 2020, but it was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT ARE ARKANSAS'S CANNABIS LAWS?
On November 8, 2016, Arkansas voters approved Amendment 98, also known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. Patients who possess a physician’s recommendation may legally possess and obtain medical cannabis provided by state-licensed dispensaries, but may not cultivate plants at their own home. Patients under the age of 21 are not permitted to consume cannabis in raw flower form, as well as inhaling raw cannabis flower is not permitted in the presence of a pregnant woman or a child age 14 or under. Medical dispensaries may not provide cannabis-infused edibles or beverages with more than 10mg of the active ingredient THC. The law allows for 32 dispensary licenses, 5 cultivation licenses, along with processing, transportation, and distribution activities to occur.
WHAT IS ARKANSAS'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is currently accepting applications for medical marijuana transporter and processor licenses. There is currently no submission deadline.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission was created by the passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. The Commission was tasked with administering and regulating the issuance of licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities, and worked with the support of Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control to implement and enforce the requirements of the amendment. On December 7, 2016, the inaugural members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Counsel were announced. The members are:
- Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D. - Chairwoman (Appointed by Governor Hutchinson)
- Justin Smith, RN (Appointed by Senator Dismang)
- Capt. Keven Russell (Appointed by Senator Dismang) (2 Year Term)
- J.P.Mobley (Appointed by Representative Shephard) (2 Year Term)
- Travis W. Story, Esq. (Appointed by Representative Gillam)
The Commission developed regulations that govern medical marijuana businesses, as well as oversees the application and renewal of licenses.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN ARKANSAS?
Arkansas was an early player in the national legalization conversation. As early as 2006, residents of Eureka Springs voted to make cannabis law enforcement the lowest police priority and soon after in 2008 residents of Fayetteville approved a similar initiative.
In 2012, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act was put up for a vote on the statewide ballot, but failed to obtain enough votes. The act would have allowed non-profit organizations, or collectives, to grow and sell medical cannabis as well as allow patients who live over five miles from a legal dispensary to cultivate a small number of plants on their own property. Unfortunately, the measure was defeated in a narrow vote and the issue was not brought back up for another four years.
In November 2016, 53% of Arkansas voters approved Amendment 98 to legalize the medical use of cannabis, allowing patients who obtain a doctor's recommendation to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for the treatment of any of the 15 conditions listed. The amendment also requires licensing by the state of 20 to 40 cannabis dispensaries and four to eight cultivators. There was no allowance made for patients to cultivate at home. Licensed cannabis medical sales began when the first dispensary opened in Hot Springs, Arkansas in May 2019.
Despite having a medical cannabis program, Arkansas still has some of the harshest cannabis laws in the United States with repeat offenders’ possession over an ounce is punishable up to six years in prison. With the approved number of Medical Marijuana ID Cards reaching nearly 70,000 as of July 2020, the medical cannabis program has seen significant growth in the past couple of years. Arkansas had a pair of unsuccessful adult-use ballot measures in the 2020 legislative session, but is still an interesting cannabis market with over $63 million in sales nearly a year after medical dispensaries opened.
DOES ARKANSAS HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
PREPARING FOR THE ARKANSAS CANNABIS MARKET
We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Arkansas. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.