Arkansas Marijuana Laws

  1. Arkansas Cannabis
  2. Arkansas Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Recreational marijuana is illegal in Arkansas. An attempt to legalize it through a ballot initiative in 2022 failed
  • Medical cannabis is legal for qualifying patients who live with certain ailments. Such patients must obtain Arkansas-issued medical cannabis cards
  • Individuals with qualifying medical conditions must be at least 18 years old to purchase and use medical marijuana. Otherwise, their parents or legal guardians must serve as their caregivers and assist them with medical cannabis purchases and administration
  • Registered cannabis patients in Arkansas can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana within a 14-day period
  • No cannabis-infused food or beverage may contain more than 10% THC
  • Arkansas law prohibits medical cannabis patients from growing marijuana at home. They may only access medical cannabis products by purchasing them at state-licensed dispensaries

Is Marijuana Legal in Arkansas?

Marijuana is legal in Arkansas for medical purposes, but recreational cannabis is still illegal. Federal law still lists marijuana as a banned substance, and Arkansas is equally firm in its prohibition of recreational marijuana use. The Controlled Substances Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 1970, lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 drugs, like marijuana, heroin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), are presumed to have no medical benefits and have the potential of being abused.

Can I Use Cannabis in Arkansas?

Cannabis refers to the parts or derivatives of the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants. The leaves, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis plant have historically been processed into dried, edible, smokable, or liquid forms. In many U.S. states, medical marijuana is legal for therapeutic use. Cannabis is made up of several chemical compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main basis for its prohibition at the federal level. THC is a psychoactive compound that causes intoxicating effects and mood alteration in users.

Qualifying patients who suffer from the following debilitating medical conditions can use medical marijuana in Arkansas:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV+/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain unresponsive to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than 6 months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including those caused by epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including those caused by multiple sclerosis
  • Severe muscle spasms

Arkansas Marijuana Laws 2024

After the passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment in 2016, the Arkansas Legislature passed House Bill 1026, which laid the legal framework for the establishment of a medical marijuana commission. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is responsible for issuing licenses to medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries.

Because marijuana is still banned under federal law, the use and possession of the substance are prohibited on federal property occupied by members of the U.S. military in Arkansas and on property used by members of the Arkansas National Guard. According to the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, marijuana cannot be consumed, even for medical purposes, in federal government buildings in Arkansas.

Under the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, marijuana use is especially prohibited in or around school premises. It cannot be used in buildings accommodating children. Also, It is illegal to use marijuana in prisons or other correctional facilities or in public places where the marijuana user stands the chance of being observed by other people in Arkansas. Marijuana use is also prohibited near pregnant women or minors.

On November 8, 2022, Arkansas voters decided with a ballot initiative, known as the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, to keep the state’s ban on recreational marijuana. The initiative failed with 44% of the vote.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Arkansas Happens

Under the provisions of the 2016 Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, legal marijuana sales can only occur between state-licensed entities licensed by the state, such as between patients and dispensaries or between growers and processors. The sale of marijuana for medical purposes only is regulated by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. The Commission is mandated by law to issue licenses to marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries.

Qualifying patients with medical marijuana ID cards issued by the Arkansas Department of Health are entitled to purchase two and a half ounces of medical marijuana every 14 days from licensed dispensaries. To legally buy medical marijuana from an Arkansas dispensary, the qualifying patient must be at least 18 years old; a minor would have to show proof of parental consent to make a purchase. In addition, a patient must present at the dispensary a written certification from their doctor stating the therapeutic need for medical marijuana.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Arkansas

Depending on the offense, the following are penalties for marijuana-related crimes in Arkansas:

Possession

  • The possession of four ounces or less of marijuana is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Arkansas. If the individual involved is a first-time offender, they face a penalty of up to a year in prison. Subsequent marijuana possession offenses by the same individual are treated as felonies and are ranked according to the quantity of marijuana found in their possession:
    • If the quantity of marijuana adjudged to be possessed with intent to deliver is more than 4 ounces, the offender is charged with a Class D felony and faces a prison term of up to six years and a fine of $10,000
    • The possession of a quantity of marijuana above 10 pounds but less than 25 pounds, is a felony offense that attracts a prison sentence of between three and ten years
    • The possession of a quantity of marijuana above 25 pounds but less than 100 pounds is a felony offense that carries a prison sentence of between five and twenty years
    • The possession of a quantity of marijuana above 100 pounds but less than 500 pounds is a felony that attracts a prison sentence of between six and thirty years

Cultivation

The cultivation of marijuana in private homes or premises is illegal in Arkansas. The offense is categorized as simple possession or as possession with intent to deliver, depending on the quantity involved. Simple possession is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of $2,500.

Possession of marijuana paraphernalia

  • The possession of fewer than 4 ounces of marijuana paraphernalia is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor in Arkansas. It carries a prison sentence of one year or less. If the paraphernalia is held with the intent to grow cannabis plants, the individual involved is charged with a misdemeanor and faces a prison sentence of up to six years. The delivery of marijuana paraphernalia to a minor is charged as a misdemeanor and carries a prison sentence of up to one year
  • The possession of a quantity of marijuana above 1 ounce but less than 4 ounces is treated as a Class D felony in cases where the offender has several prior convictions for the same crime. The penalty is a prison sentence of up to six years.
  • The possession of a quantity of marijuana of more than four ounces, but less than ten pounds, is a felony under Arkansas law and attracts a prison sentence of up to six years.

Driving under the influence of marijuana

Arkansas law mandates six months driver’s license suspension for any individual charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana.

Qualifying patients and their designated caregivers in Arkansas are exempt from arrest and prosecution for marijuana possession, provided that the quantity involved does not exceed the legal limit of two and a half ounces. Arkansas Statutes permit doubling the prison sentences of defendants who have previously been convicted of marijuana-related offenses if the repeat offense takes place within 1,000 feet of a daycare center, school, place of worship, or a municipal or state park. Sentencing guidelines provide for the statutory term to be extended by another 10 years.

What is Arkansas' Cannabis History?

Cannabis was first made illegal in Arkansas nearly one hundred years ago, in 1923. Since then, marijuana was first criminalized and then decriminalized for medical use across several states.

In 2012, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, also known as Issue 5, was defeated on the ballot by voters. Advocates for the proposed law sought to make medical marijuana legal in Arkansas. The bill also sought to grant patients the right to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home. Issue 5 also sought to exempt qualifying patients from prosecution for marijuana-related offenses.

In November 2016, Arkansas voters approved, by 53%, the passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA), that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The bill listed 17 eligible medical conditions that would qualify Arkansas residents or visitors for medicinal cannabis. A report released at the time of the ballot found that about 80% of Arkansas respondents were in support of the individual's right to medical marijuana, provided a doctor had recommended its use. Some Arkansas municipal authorities, like those of Eureka Springs, Little Rock, and Fayetteville, have passed legislation that places a lower priority on the prosecution of marijuana-related offenses.

In the 2022 November ballot, an initiative to make recreational marijuana legal in Arkansas failed with only 44% of the vote.

What are the Restrictions on Cannabis in Arkansas?

Although medical marijuana is legal in Arkansas, there are still restrictions on the use and possession of marijuana. The recreational use of marijuana is still prohibited. The following are some of the restrictions on marijuana in Arkansas:

  • An Arkansas resident must be at least 18 years old to be able to use medical marijuana. Minor who suffers from a debilitating illness must have their medical marijuana application filed by a parent or legal guardian who will act as their caregiver
  • Arkansas law prohibits members of the American Military stationed in Arkansas, and members of the Arkansas National Guard from registering as qualifying patients under the state’s medical marijuana program
  • The legalization of medical marijuana in Arkansas does not permit a patient to consume the substance in a workplace. It is also prohibited to use medical marijuana on privately owned property against the wishes of the landlord. A medical marijuana user may also not participate in school activities if determined to be impaired by the consumption of the substance
  • According to the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, food or beverage which is laced with marijuana must contain no more than 10% of the psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Such food and beverage must mandatorily be labeled to indicate their THC content
  • Medical marijuana dispensaries must ensure their advertising hoardings and advertising are unappealing to children in order not to create an allure in medical marijuana. Also, medical marijuana products packaging must be done in such a manner as to be unattractive to minors
In this section:
Arkansas Marijuana Laws.png