**Can You Smoke Weed in Public 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.
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:
After the successful 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.
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.
Depending on the offense, the following are penalties for marijuana-related crimes in Arkansas:
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
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.
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.
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: