For a company to grow medical cannabis, it must apply to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) for a medical cannabis cultivation facility license. The Commission’s medical cannabis licensing rules and the DFA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division’s operational rules must be complied with by all applicants for medical cannabis licenses and successful licensees.
A medical cannabis cultivation licensee is allowed to cultivate and gather the plants as well as process them and manufacture medical cannabis products from them. The licensee can sell raw medical cannabis and manufactured medical cannabis products to licensed medical cannabis dispensaries.
The Medical Marijuana Commission will issue not less than four and not more than eight medical cannabis cultivation licenses across the State of Arkansas. In addition to one medical cannabis cultivation license, a person can only partially or fully own one medical cannabis dispensary license.
For every applicant, the business owners, officers, and board members must be fingerprinted and go through a Criminal History Check by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Arkansas State Police. The applicant must then pay the application fee of $15,000. In case the application is denied, half of the fee will be refunded.
Furthermore, applicants for the medical cannabis cultivation license have to prove that they have not less than $500,000 in liquid assets. They must also provide a surety bond worth $1 million. This can only be returned for any of the following reasons:
● The applicant withdrew the application
● The Commission denied the application
● The Commission granted the application, and the new license holder has complied with the cultivator licensing fee payment of $100,000 and performance bond payment of $500,000 not later than seven days after the announcement
The license holder’s performance bond can only be returned once the medical cannabis cultivation licensee has submitted to the Arkansas DFA its first medical marijuana sales tax report.
Every licensed medical cannabis cultivation facility must comply with its municipality’s zoning regulations. It must also be 3,000 feet or more from any existing church, school, or daycare facility. The property must be owned or leased by the license holder. If it is leased, the licensee must have the permission of the property owner to cultivate medical cannabis on the premises.
All the cultivation and manufacturing processes of medical cannabis should be completely indoors. Everything must be shielded from view outside the property. There must be no offensive smells or noise coming from the facility.
The facility may operate for 24 hours every day, but its security system must also work continuously. To deter unlawful entry and burglary, the facility must be protected with commercial-grade locks, CCTV monitoring, and alarms. Registration with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the DFA is required for all employees.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Commission allows cultivation license holders to grow as much medical cannabis as needed in the program. It also allows medical cannabis dispensary license holders to grow cannabis but only to the following extent:
● Not more than 150 immature and 50 mature cannabis plants in any period
● Monthly harvests can only be done on not more than 50 mature cannabis plants
Yes, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Washington County, but according to Amendment 98 of the State of Arkansas, this is restricted to the manufacturing of only medical cannabis products. For a company to manufacture medical cannabis, it must apply to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission for a medical marijuana processor license.
The application fee for the manufacturing license is $5,000. For each applicant, fingerprinting and a Criminal History Check by the Arkansas State Police and the FBI are required for all owners, board members, and officers. Successful licensees must submit a performance bond worth $100,000. The bond can only be returned after the license holder has submitted the first application for license renewal.
Every licensed medical marijuana processing facility should choose a location that complies with municipal zoning regulations. In cases where the property is leased, the licensed medical marijuana processing facility owners must have the permission of the property owner to establish a medical cannabis manufacturing operation.
The entire medical cannabis manufacturing facility must be indoors and hidden from view from the outside of the property. It must not emit disagreeable odors or create noise. Operations are allowed to proceed for 24 hours daily, but theft and unauthorized entry must be prevented through the installation of commercial-grade locks, and a round-the-clock security system. This must be equipped with non-stop video surveillance and alarms. All employees of the facility must register with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the DFA.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Commission prohibits the following in the manufacturing process for medical cannabis:
● Solvents that the Federal Drug Administration Guidance classifies as “Class 1”
● Solvents that are hydrocarbon-based but have less than 99 percent purity
● Solvents that are non-food-grade and non-hydrocarbon-based
● Non-potable water or ice
● Flammable fuel that is canned and pressurized, like butane
● Denatured alcohol
● Heated or pressurized carbon dioxide above 180 degrees
Licensed manufacturers are required to pack medical cannabis products in containers that are sealed and childproof with labels that comply with the guidelines of the Arkansas Department of Health. Packaging and labels must not attract children. Edible medical cannabis products are allowed but not in the form of food products that are appealing to children, like candy, chewing gum, cookies, pastries, brownies, and cakes.
A portion of any edible medical cannabis product is required to contain only a maximum of 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). If it is difficult to determine the portion size of an edible medical cannabis product, then the whole package must contain only 10 milligrams of THC. Furthermore, the same state and local standards that apply to retail food businesses must also be complied with by licensed medical cannabis manufacturing facilities that manufacture edible medical cannabis.
Yes, cannabis retail sale is legal in Washington County, but as stipulated by the State of Arkansas’ Amendment 98, only licensed dispensaries can sell medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to medical marijuana card-holding patients and caregivers.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will issue not less than 20 and not more than 40 licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries across the state. The distribution will be made according to the county’s eight geographic zones. Each county is allowed to have no more than four licensed dispensaries.
Fingerprinting and a Criminal History Check from the Arkansas State Police and the FBI are also required from the owners, board members, and officers of all companies applying for the medical cannabis dispensary license. The application fee is $7,500, but half of it will be refunded in case the application fails. Applying companies must prove to have a minimum of $100,000 in liquid assets. They must surrender a surety bond of $200,000. This can only be returned for any of the following reasons:
● The applicant withdrew the application
● The Commission denied the application
● The Commission granted the application, and the new license holder has complied with the dispensary licensing fee payment of $15,000 and performance bond payment of $100,000 not later than seven days after the announcement
The license holder’s performance bond can only be returned once the medical cannabis dispensary licensee has submitted to the Arkansas DFA its first application for license renewal.
The licensed medical cannabis dispensary facility is required to meet all zoning regulations in its municipality. It must be located at least 1,500 feet from any existing church, school, or daycare center. The property owner must allow the establishment of a licensed medical cannabis dispensary on the premises if the property is leased.
Operating hours allowed for licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The facility must be protected from burglaries and illegal access with the use of commercial-grade locks and a continuously running security system armed with alarms and surveillance cameras. Registration with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the DFA is a must for all employees.
Only patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders are allowed to enter the licensed medical cannabis dispensary. Card-holding patients may bring their children. A patient who needs a companion may also bring one, but the companion is restricted to the waiting area.
Whenever there is a need for a contractor to work within a licensed medical cannabis dispensary, a dispensary employee must always accompany the contractor in unmonitored areas. The contractor may only be allowed to work alone if the work area is under continuous CCTV surveillance.
Licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are permitted to sell the following by retail:
● Cannabis plant parts, including flowers, leaves, stalks, roots, seeds, and others
● Cannabis concentrates
● Cannabis extracts
● Cannabis oils
● Cannabis extracts
● Cannabis waxes
● Edible cannabis products, not including the products identified to be appealing to children
The sale of medical cannabis vaporizers is also allowed. However, any form of combustion is not permitted in using medical marijuana. Therefore, the following products are also prohibited in licensed medical cannabis dispensaries:
● Rolling paper
● Pre-rolled cannabis products
● Roach clips
● Water pipes
The staff of the licensed medical cannabis dispensary must follow these procedures when dispensing to patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders:
● Ask for a valid photo ID card to verify the identity of the person.
● Ask for the medical cannabis card.
● Key into the Inventory Tracking System the medical cannabis card number.
● Verify that the Arkansas Department of Health has authorized the person to purchase medical cannabis.
● Check that the current sale will not result in the patient exceeding the allowed 2.5 ounces of usable medical marijuana to be purchased every 14 days. Usable marijuana is defined as the weight of active cannabis, not including the weight of added ingredients.
The following must also be entered by the dispensary staff into the Inventory Tracking System after each purchase:
● The registered identification number of the licensed dispensary
● The registered identification number of the dispensary employee who made the sale
● The medical cannabis strain, product type, and unique identification number
● The volume of medical cannabis dispensed
● The medical cannabis purchase price
● The buyer’s identity, and if the buyer is a patient or caregiver
● The time and date of the sale
Yes, cannabis delivery is legal in Washington County, but Amendment 98 of the State of Arkansas permits only licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis purchased by medical marijuana cardholders.
Licensed dispensaries are only allowed to deliver to the medical marijuana cardholder’s registered home address. The home can be a residence, apartment, retirement home, or nursing home. They are, however, not allowed to deliver to hotels, bed and breakfast inns, motels, dormitories, and the like.
The delivery period is restricted to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. only. The licensed medical cannabis dispensary must deploy two personnel for each delivery trip. Each one must have with them their Arkansas driver’s license and current medical cannabis dispensary agent registration ID.
The delivery vehicle must always be manned by one of the delivery personnel whenever it is carrying any medical cannabis. The product must be kept in a container that is hidden from view and securely locked. There must be no identifying marks on the delivery vehicle. It must be equipped with alarms and covered by the appropriate insurance. Each delivery must stick to the route with no changes and unscheduled stops.
Once an order for delivery is received, it must be processed in the Inventory Tracking System and delivered on the same day. A manifest and delivery ticket must be generated, containing the identity of the purchasing medical cannabis cardholder and the items purchased.
The delivery personnel must first ask for the medical cannabis card of the recipient for verification before releasing the delivery. The recipient must sign the delivery ticket as proof of having received the product.
After every delivery, the licensed medical cannabis dispensary must log into the Inventory Tracking System with the following data:
● The licensed dispensary’s registered identification number
● The delivery personnel’s registered identification number
● The medical cannabis strain, unique identification number, and product type delivered
● The volume of medical cannabis delivered
● The medical cannabis purchase price
● The buyer’s identity, and whether the buyer is a patient or caregiver
● The buyer’s home delivery address
● The purchase date
● The delivery time
Residents of Washington County must have a state identification card or an Arkansas driver’s license to apply for a medical marijuana card. They must start the online application process to the Arkansas Department of Health’s Arkansas Medical Marijuana Patient Registry System by opening an account to generate a password.
They must then see a qualified medical provider for a diagnosis. If they are found to have one of the following qualifying medical conditions for the program, the doctor will issue a physician’s written certification saying so:
● Hepatitis C
● Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
● Tourette’s syndrome
● Crohn’s disease
● Ulcerative colitis
● Post-traumatic stress disorder
● Severe arthritis
● Alzheimer’s disease
● Cachexia or wasting syndrome
● Peripheral neuropathy
● Intractable pain not responding to other treatment for over six months
● Severe nausea
● Severe and persistent muscle spasms
● Other medical conditions approved by the Arkansas Department of Health
The applicant’s Arkansas driver’s license or state identification card must be photocopied and uploaded with the physician’s written certification. An online form must be completed, and the $50 non-refundable fee must be paid. The application will take around 14 working days to process. Once approved, the medical cannabis card may be downloaded and printed out by the applicant from the online registry.
Patients who are minors need to have a caregiver to purchase medical cannabis for them. The caregiver must also register online in a similar manner, and a $50 non-refundable fee must also be paid. A caregiver registration, however, carries an additional non-refundable fee of $37 to cover the cost of a criminal background check.
A 90-day medical marijuana card in Arkansas may be applied for by visitors who carry a valid medical marijuana card from another state, provided that their medical condition qualifies under the Arkansas guidelines. Applicants must pay a non-refundable fee of $50.
Online applications are encouraged, but those who cannot do so may also apply through regular mail. The physician’s written certification and patient or caregiver application must be downloaded and printed out. The completed form and certification, as well as the clear photocopy of the state identification, must be mailed with a $50 money order or check made out to the Arkansas Department of Health. Following is the address:
Arkansas Department of Health
4815 West Markham, Slot 50
Little Rock AR, 72205
Like the online application, it will take approximately 14 days to process. The medical cannabis card will be mailed if the application is approved.
For more information, the following toll-free numbers may be called:
There were 8,719 medical marijuana patient registry cards approved for Washington County from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, according to the DFA’s 2022 Fiscal Year Report.
Amendment 98 subjects medical cannabis businesses to the local and state taxes that other Arkansas businesses are also subject to. Likewise, medical cannabis and medical cannabis products are covered by the same percentage of sales tax imposed on other products.
A 4% privilege tax is charged whenever a licensed cultivator sells medical cannabis to a licensed dispensary. A 6.5% sales tax is added to the 4% privilege tax whenever medical cannabis is sold to cardholding patients or caregivers. In 2022 alone, this has earned the state tax revenues totaling $32 million.
A government analysis of Amendment 98 lists the following distribution for medical cannabis revenues:
● 50% for the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund
● 30% for the State General Revenue
● 10% for the Skills Development Fund of the Department of Career Education
● 5% for the Department of Health
● 2% for the Alcohol Beverage Control Administrative Division
● 2% for the Alcohol Beverage Control Enforcement Division
● 1% for the Medical Marijuana Commission
Medical cannabis was legalized in Washington County and all of Arkansas in 2016. According to data from the Washington County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2015, there were 198 arrests for marijuana-related crimes, of which 194 were for marijuana possession, and four were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. In 2021, this decreased to 72 arrests for marijuana-related crimes, of which 71 were for marijuana possession, and one was for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 112 DUI arrests in 2015. This decreased to 56 DUI arrests in 2021.