Marijuana became illegal in the state of Arkansas in 1923 as 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 punishable with a one-year jail term and a maximum fine of $2,500.
A third marijuana offense is a Class D felony which could lead to six years in prison. The state’s attitude towards the herb softened over the years, and in Eureka Springs and Fayetteville, citizens voted to make adult possession of weed the lowest police priority. Citizens of Arkansas were invited to vote on the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2012, but it was defeated by less than 3%.
Finally, in November 2016, Arkansas legalized medicinal marijuana when 53% of residents voted ‘yes’ on Issue 6. The medical marijuana program in the state is still relatively new, so 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, and 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 be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed in Arkansas, be in good standing to practice medicine in the state, have a controlled substance license on file with the DEA, and have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with you.
You will go through a physical examination, and the doctor will decide if you are eligible for an MMJ card. 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 a new certification. Go to the ADH website to apply online; although, 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, but it does state that your card will be valid for one year. You are allowed to buy up to 2.5 ounces from a licensed dispensary every 14 days. Sadly, registered patients and their caregivers are not allowed to grow their own weed.
The program is fairly broad, and you can purchase oils, tinctures, flower products, edibles, concentrates, topicals, pills, and vape liquids. As part of the Medical Marijuana Act, a list of 32 dispensaries was released in February 2019.
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 all the way to $250. Doctors tend to charge $150 or less if you are one of their ‘established’ patients.
According to the Arkansas Times, Fort Smith Medical is one of the cheapest at $120 while Dr. William Piechal, who operates in Fayetteville, charges $150 if you are an established patient, and $250 if you are new. Dr. Jeremy Grant in El Dorado, Dr. Tammy Post of Bentonville, and Dr. Joseph Tucker of Texarkana all charge $250 or more.
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 may still be eligible. You need to petition the ADH for consideration of your illness. The department will have a hearing and decide whether your petition is to be approved or denied within 120 days of submission.
Other Important Information on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana License Process
This is an individual who is selected by a qualifying patient as the person 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, be it through hiring or termination of a contract, based on that person’s past or present status as a caregiver.
Use of Marijuana
Although you have the freedom to purchase different types of marijuana, Arkansas lawmakers passed a bill which 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, and cannot knowingly smoke the herb in the presence of a pregnant woman or anyone under the age of 14.
As a result, use of medical marijuana is banned on the grounds of preschools, primary or secondary schools, on a school bus, in any motor vehicle, correctional facility, private residences licensed to provide childcare or any public place.
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.
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, so make sure you reapply well in advance of the deadline so that there isn’t a gap in coverage.