Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Arkansas

  1. Arkansas Cannabis
  2. Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card
  3. Consequences of Having a MMJ Card in Arkansas

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas

With recreational marijuana currently illegal in Arkansas, you must have a medical marijuana card to be safe from arrest if caught with cannabis in Arkansas.

Legal Protection

As recreational cannabis is illegal in Arkansas, possessing marijuana in the state can result in a Class A misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a maximum of 12 months imprisonment and a $2,500 fine. However, if you have an Arkansas medical marijuana card, you are protected from arrests related to marijuana possession as long as you have no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana in your possession over 14 days. Due to the ban on recreational cannabis, medical marijuana patients are advised to carry their MMJ cards always to avoid arrest for marijuana possession. MMJ patients may also carry a state-issued ID with them, such as an Arkansas driver's license, to verify their identities as approved medical marijuana users.

Access for Minors

One of the benefits of holding a medical marijuana card is that you can access marijuana while you are a minor. If you are 18 years of age and fulfill the conditions for participation in the Arkansas medical marijuana program, you can obtain an MMJ card, which qualifies you to possess and use marijuana. If you are not yet 18, you may be able to access marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana program via an approved caregiver.

Reciprocity

Possessing an Arkansas medical marijuana card does not limit access to marijuana to only the jurisdiction covered by the State of Arkansas. You may be able to access medical marijuana in other states via the medical marijuana reciprocity provisions established under the states’ medical cannabis programs. Some jurisdictions allowing out-of-state patients to purchase or possess marijuana with cards issued from their home states include Maine, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Note that some of these states require that the medical conditions treated with marijuana be approved under their own medical cannabis programs. Patients may also need to complete temporary registrations to be eligible to purchase medical marijuana and medical marijuana products in those jurisdictions.

Employment Restrictions

Pursuant to Arkansas medical marijuana laws, an employer is not allowed to discriminate against their employee or applicant in hiring, termination, or any condition or term of employment, or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant based on the individual's present or past status as a medical marijuana cardholder.

Note that the anti-discrimination provisions of the Arkansas medical marijuana law do not prohibit employers from any of the following actions:

  • Establishing and implementing workplace policies that comply with state or federal law and taking action regarding an applicant or employee under the policies. The policies taken by the employer may include drug-free workplace policies and drug or alcohol testing
  • Acting on the employer's good faith belief that a qualifying medical marijuana cardholder or patient possessed or used marijuana or was impaired after consuming marijuana while on the employer's premises or during employment hours
  • Acting to exclude a qualifying medical marijuana cardholder or patient from being employed in or performing a safety-sensitive position based upon the employer's good faith belief that the individual was engaged in the current use of marijuana. Safety-sensitive positions must be designated as such by the employer in writing and include positions requiring carrying a firearm, performing life-threatening operations, working with confidential documents or information related to criminal investigations, or working with hazardous or flammable materials, controlled substances, food, or medicine, or those positions in which a lapse of attention may result in injury, illness, or death, such as jobs that include operating, maintaining, repairing, or monitoring heavy equipment, machinery, aircraft, motorized watercraft, or motor vehicles as part of their duties

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas

An Arkansas medical marijuana card can be relatively costly to maintain and excludes holders from certain federal benefits.

Firearm Prohibition

Although Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed Act 757 in April 2023 to allow medical marijuana patients to obtain concealed carry licenses for firearms, the new law has not changed federal firearm licensing requirements. Specifically, FFL holders are required to ensure that gun purchases complete Form 4473 and answer "yes" or "no" to the question asking whether they are unlawful or addicted users of any narcotic, such as marijuana. Since federal law considers all medical marijuana users unlawful marijuana users due to the federal classification of marijuana as a banned narcotic, medical marijuana users must answer "yes" to the marijuana status question on Form 4473. Per ATF rules, an FFL holder who sells a gun to someone who answered "yes" to the question may lose their license and potentially face federal criminal liability. Therefore, possessing a medical marijuana card potentially puts the cardholder in harm's way with federal law enforcement authorities.

Driving Restrictions

In Arkansas, the state's medical marijuana laws do not specify a legal blood limit for marijuana use while driving. However, it remains illegal to drive a car while under the influence of marijuana. Law enforcement officers may conduct field sobriety tests, and drivers found impaired may face legal consequences. First-time offenders for drugged driving face up to a maximum of 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, and license suspension for 120 days.

Medical marijuana users also face other restrictions, such as ineligibility to apply for commercial driving licenses (CDLs). Since CDLs are subject to federal regulations, and cannabis is illegal at the federal level, holding a medical marijuana card puts your commercial driver’s license at risk.

Annual Renewal

It costs money and effort to maintain an Arkansas medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana patients are advised to renew their registry ID cards prior to their expiration. Otherwise, when an Arkansas medical marijuana card expires, the legal protection offered to the cardholder under the Arkansas medical marijuana law is expired.

The Arkansas medical marijuana card is renewable annually and up to 60 days before the card's expiration date. Note that it is possible for an Arkansas medical marijuana card to be issued with a validity period shorter than one year by the certifying physician. The same documents for new applications are required for renewals. These include the patient registry application form, a nonrefundable application fee, a photocopy of the front of the applicant's Arkansas-issued driver's license or state ID on a full sheet of paper, and a new physician written certification. New certifications may be issued via telemedicine or in-person appointments. The consultation fees charged by certifying physicians cost between $100 and $250. The fee charged by the Arkansas Department of Health for a medical marijuana card renewal is $50.

Federal Prohibitions

MMJ cardholders in Arkansas who apply for federal employment will be denied based on their marijuana status. Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, including medical marijuana, by federal employees. This means that even if you possess a valid Arkansas MMJ card from Arizona, you cannot be employed by the federal government. This prohibition is based on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I controlled drug. Schedule I substances are federally considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medicinal use. As a result of the CSA, federal agencies are prohibited from hiring or retaining employees who use marijuana, regardless of their state's laws.

Also, federal employees who live in Arkansas cannot get the state's medical marijuana card without risking their jobs. Hence, if you are a federal employee and you obtain an Arkansas medical marijuana card, you may be terminated from your job if you fail a drug test.

Furthermore, individuals living in federally subsidized housing in Arkansas cannot cultivate marijuana on such properties. Note that federally subsidized housing is governed by federal laws. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a strict policy prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana in any HUD-assisted housing. The HUD policy is based on the federal prohibition of marijuana cultivation.

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