Yes, it is legal to cultivate cannabis in Benton County but, in accordance with the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, also called Amendment 98, this is restricted to cannabis for medical use.
To legally grow medical cannabis, a company must first be granted a medical cannabis cultivation facility license by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission under the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). All medical cannabis license applicants and licensees are subject to the medical cannabis licensing rules of the Commission and the operational rules of the DFA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
The medical cannabis cultivation facility license authorizes the holder not only to grow and harvest medical cannabis but also to process and manufacture medical cannabis products and sell both unprocessed and processed medical cannabis to a licensed dispensary.
A minimum of four and a maximum of eight medical cannabis cultivation licenses will be issued by the Medical Marijuana Commission. An individual may only fully or partially own a maximum of one licensed medical marijuana cultivation facility along with one licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
The applying company’s owners, board members, and officers must go through fingerprinting and pass the Criminal History Check by the Arkansas State Police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). There is a $15,000.00 application fee, half of which will be refunded if the application is denied.
The medical cannabis cultivation license applicant must provide proof of liquid assets amounting to a minimum of $500,000.00 and post a $1 million surety bond. The bond will be released when any of the following occurs:
The application has been withdrawn
The application has been denied
The application has been granted and the new licensee has paid the $100,000 cultivator licensing fee and $500,000 performance bond within seven days of the selection
The performance bond will be released after the medical cannabis cultivation licensee has filed its first medical cannabis sales tax report with the Arkansas DFA.
A licensed medical cannabis cultivation facility’s primary entrance must not be less than 3,000 feet from the nearest property line of an existing private or public school, daycare, or church. It must be compliant with the zoning regulations of the municipality. If the property on which the facility will be located is not owned by the license holder, the property owner must agree to the presence of a medical cannabis cultivation facility on the property. All employees must be registered with the DFA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
Licensed medical cannabis cultivation and any processing activities must be done fully indoors. It must be blocked from outside observation, must not emit foul odors, and must not create noise. Operations are allowed 24 hours a day. A round-the-clock security system must be in place with commercial-grade locks, video surveillance, and alarms to prevent unauthorized entry and theft.
A medical cannabis dispensary license provided by the Medical Cannabis Commission also provides the holder the authority to cultivate and harvest a limited number of cannabis plants, as follows:
A maximum of 50 mature and 150 immature marijuana plants may be grown at a time
A maximum of 50 mature marijuana plants may be harvested every month
Yes, it is legal to manufacture cannabis in Benton County but only for medical use as stipulated by Amendment 98 of Arkansas. To legally manufacture medical cannabis, a company is required to apply for a medical marijuana processor license from the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. There is no ceiling on the number of processor licenses that the Commission may grant.
There is a $5,000 application fee. All owners, board members, and officers of applying companies must be fingerprinted and pass the Criminal History Check of the FBI and Arkansas State Police. Once the license is granted, there is a required $100,000 performance bond. This bond will be released upon the licensee's first license renewal application.
The location of the licensed medical marijuana processing facility must be in compliance with local zoning regulations. If the license holder does not own the property on which the facility will be located, the property owner must approve of having a medical cannabis processing facility there. Registration with the DFA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division is required for all employees.
Licensed medical cannabis manufacturing must take place entirely indoors. It must not be visible from the outside, must not generate foul smells, and must not make noise. The medical cannabis manufacturing facility may operate 24 hours a day. To prevent unauthorized access and burglary, a 24-hour security system with commercial-grade locks, video cameras, and alarms must be installed.
In manufacturing cannabinoid extracts and concentrates, the following are not allowed:
solvents classified by the Federal Drug Administration Guidance as “Class 1”
hydrocarbon-based solvents with purity below 99 percent
non-food-grade non-hydrocarbon-based solvents
water or ice that is not potable
pressurized canned flammable fuel, such as butane
carbon dioxide used with heat or pressure above 180 degrees
All manufactured medical cannabis products must be in sealed childproof containers that are labeled in compliance with the requirements of the Arkansas Department of Health. They must not be attractive to children. In this regard, while the manufacturing of edible medical cannabis products is allowed, food products attractive to children are prohibited, such as candy, cakes, cookies, brownies, pastries, chewing gum, and the like.
Edible medical cannabis products manufactured must contain not more than 10 milligrams of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for each portion. If portions could not be easily determined, the entire product, food, or drink must contain not more than 10 milligrams of active THC in total. The licensed medical cannabis manufacturing facility must comply with local and state standards imposed on retail food businesses.
Yes, it is legal to sell cannabis by retail in Benton County but Amendment 98 of Arkansas stipulates that only medical cannabis can be sold by dispensaries licensed by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. They can only sell these to patients and caregivers who are medical cannabis cardholders.
A minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 medical cannabis dispensary licenses will be issued by the Medical Marijuana Commission. These will be distributed across eight geographic zones, with a maximum of four dispensaries allowed in every county.
All applicant companies' owners, board members, and officers must be fingerprinted and pass the FBI and Arkansas State Police Criminal History Check. They must pay a $7,500 application fee, of which $3,750 will be refunded if the application is denied. They must also show proof of liquid assets amounting to $100,000 at the minimum and post a $200,000 surety bond. The bond will be released once any of the following occurs:
The application has been withdrawn
The application has been denied
The application has been granted and the new licensee has paid the $15,000.00 dispensary licensing fee and $100,000.00 performance bond within seven days of the selection
After the medical cannabis dispensary licensee has filed its first license renewal application, the performance bond will be released.
The primary entrance of a licensed medical cannabis dispensary facility must be no less than 1,500 feet from the nearest property boundary of an operating private or public school, daycare, or church. It must meet the municipality's zoning restrictions. If the license holder does not own the premises where the facility will be located, the property owner must agree to the establishment of a medical cannabis cultivation facility on the site.
The medical cannabis dispensing facility is allowed to operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The medicinal cannabis dispensary is permitted to be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A 24-hour security system with commercial-grade locks, video cameras, and alarms must be implemented to prevent illegal access and robbery. All licensed dispensary employees must register with the DFA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
Entry to the licensed medical cannabis dispensary is restricted to medical cannabis cardholding patients and their caregivers. Cardholding patients who have children are allowed to bring their children when purchasing their medical cannabis. Cardholding patients who can purchase their medical cannabis but need accompaniment may bring a companion to stay in the licensed dispensary’s waiting area.
If contractors are needed to work on a task in the licensed medical cannabis dispensary, the contractor must be accompanied to the work area. If the contractor can be left to work unaccompanied if continuously monitored by a security camera.
Medical cannabis allowed for sale in licensed dispensaries includes the following:
Flowers, leaves, stalks, roots, seeds, and any other parts of the cannabis plant
Edible cannabis products, except those that are attractive to children
Licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to sell medical cannabis vaporizers. However, the use of cannabis by combustion is prohibited. Hence, the following are forbidden for sale:
Pre-rolled cannabis products
Before dispensing medical cannabis purchases to medical cannabis cardholding patients and caregivers, the dispensary staff must follow the following protocols:
Check the individual’s identity through a valid photo ID card.
Check the medical cannabis card presented.
Log the medical cannabis card number into the Inventory Tracking System.
Check whether the individual has the authorization to purchase medical cannabis from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Ensure that the purchase will not cause the patient to exceed the limit of 2.5 ounces of usable medical marijuana every 14 days. Usable marijuana refers to active cannabis excluding the weight of other ingredients combined with it.
After each sale, the dispensary staff must log the following into the Inventory Tracking System:
The licensed dispensary’s registered identification number
The dispensing employee’s registered identification number
The amount of medical cannabis dispensed with information on its strain, unique identification number, and product type
The purchase price of the medical cannabis dispensed
The identity of the buyer, and whether the buyer was a patient or caregiver
The date and time of the purchase
Yes, it is legal to deliver cannabis in Benton County but Amendment 98 of Arkansas only allows dispensaries licensed by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to deliver purchased medical cannabis to patients and caregivers who are medical cannabis cardholders.
Deliveries can only be made to the registered residence of the medical cannabis cardholder. This includes an owned house, apartment, nursing home, or retirement home. Delivery is not allowed to hotels, dormitories, motels, bed and breakfast establishments, and other commercial spaces.
Deliveries can be made from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Every delivery must be done by two employees of the licensed medical cannabis dispensary. Each must carry a valid registration as a medical cannabis dispensary agent and an Arkansas driver’s license.
One employee must always stay with the vehicle if any medical cannabis is stored in it. Medical cannabis must always be in a locked container that is not visible to the public. The vehicle must be unmarked, adequately insured, and have an alarm system. There must be no deviation in the route and no unnecessary stops.
Delivery and processing in the Inventory Tracking System must be done within the same day the order is received. Each delivery must have a manifest and delivery ticket with the name of the medical cannabis cardholder who made the purchase and the purchased items.
Before turning over the delivery, the dispensary employee must check the medical cannabis card of the recipient to ensure that it corresponds with the one who made the order. The delivery ticket must be signed by the medical cannabis cardholder receiving the delivery to signify receipt.
The following information must be logged in the Inventory Tracking System after each delivery:
The registered identification number of the licensed dispensary
The delivery employees’ registered identification number
The amount of medical cannabis delivered with information on its strain, unique identification number, and product type
The purchase price of the medical cannabis delivered
The identity of the buyer, and whether the buyer was a patient or caregiver
The address where the medical cannabis was delivered
The date of the purchase
The estimated and actual times of delivery
To get a medical marijuana card, one must be a resident of Arkansas with an Arkansas driver’s license or state identification card. One must then apply online to join the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Patient Registry System of the Arkansas Department of Health by first creating an account and generating a password.
The next step is to consult a qualified medical provider who will issue a physician’s written certification if the applicant is diagnosed with any of the qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis treatment, as follows:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Intractable pain not responding to other treatment for over six months
Severe and persistent muscle spasms
Other medical conditions approved by the Arkansas Department of Health
The physician’s written certification must be uploaded along with a photocopy of the applicant’s state identification card or driver’s license. The applicant must complete the online form and pay the non-refundable $50 fee. After a processing period of about 14 working days, the applicant may print out the medical cannabis card from the online registry.
If the patient is a minor, a caregiver may register to purchase medical cannabis for the patient. The application is also done online on the same portal. In addition to the non-refundable $50 fee, a caregiver registration requires a non-refundable payment of $37 for the criminal background check.
Visitors from other states may apply the same way for a 90-day medical marijuana card if they have a valid medical marijuana card from their home state and if their medical condition is among those that qualify in Arkansas. The non-refundable fee is also $50.
While online applications are preferred, application by mail is also possible. Download the patient application and physician’s written certification. After the physician has filled up the certification, complete the form and mail them along with a clear photocopy of your state identification and a $50 check or money order payable to the Arkansas Department of Health to:
Arkansas Department of Health
4815 West Markham, Slot 50
Little Rock AR, 72205
Processing will take about 14 days and if the application is approved, the medical marijuana card will be sent by mail.
For queries, the public may call the following toll-free numbers:
According to the 2022 Fiscal Year Report of the DFA, from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 there were 9,732 approved medical marijuana patient registry cards for Benton County.
According to Amendment 98, medical cannabis businesses in Arkansas are subject to the same state and local taxes as other businesses and medical cannabis is subject to the same sales tax as other goods.
When medical cannabis is sold by a cultivator to a dispensary, a 4% privilege tax is applied. When patients purchase medical cannabis, a 6.5% sales tax and the 4% privilege tax are applied. In total, these raised $32 million in tax revenue for the state in 2022 alone.
An analysis of the Amendment shows that the revenues would be distributed as follows:
Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund: 50%
State General Revenue: 30%
Skills Development Fund of the Department of Career Education: 10%
Department of Health: 5%
Alcohol Beverage Control Administrative Division: 2%
Alcohol Beverage Control Enforcement Division: 2%
Medical Marijuana Commission: 1%
Medical cannabis was legalized in Benton County and the whole of Arkansas in 2016. According to data from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2015 there were 237 arrests for marijuana possession and 38 for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This decreased in 2021 to 84 arrests for marijuana possession and two for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
In 2015, there were 244 DUI arrests. This decreased as well to 91 DUI arrests in 2021.