Your Guide to Medical Marijuana & Marijuana Cards in Arkansas
Wondering how to get your medical marijuana card in Arkansas? You’re in the right place! Read on to learn everything you need to know about Arkansas’ medical program and how you can qualify and apply today.
Is Weed Legal in Arkansas?
While Recreational cannabis is still illegal in Arkansas, the state still has a medical program that’s been operating since 2016, with the first dispensaries opening their doors back in 2017. The medical program now serves over 94,000 registered patients in Arkansas and also shares reciprocity with other states.
That said, if you’re a medical cannabis patient registered in another state or territory, you may qualify for medical marijuana in Arkansas during your visit. You do, however, need to have a medical condition that matches Arkansas’ criteria for a qualifying condition, and you can’t be an Arkansas resident or someone who moved to Arkansas within the last 30 days.
An Overview of Arkansas' Medical Marijuana Program
Arkansas approved a medical marijuana program in 2016 with Amendment 98. At first, it was a compassionate care program that was only available to terminally ill patients. However, it was amended in 2017 to open it up to more patients, and dispensaries started opening shortly after. Before the dispensaries opened, patients couldn’t possess medical cannabis without a registry card. These cards were issued just 30 days before dispensaries opened, and now, over 94,000 people are registered patients.
Right now, adults 18 or older (or minors with an approved parent or guardian) with a qualifying condition can get registered for medical weed in Arkansas. However, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not eligible as either patients or caregivers.
To qualify for the Arkansas medical marijuana program, you’ll need a written certification by a licensed doctor that says that you’re dealing with one of the qualifying conditions. We’ll touch base more on those later. You will need to be a resident of Arkansas with a valid ID or driver’s license, and you’ll have to pay a $50 application fee to get started. If you’re applying as a caregiver, you’ll also have to go through a background check.
The Arkansas Department of Health is your best resource for up-to-date information on cannabis laws in Arkansas. You’re in if you’re dealing with conditions like cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, or if you’re undergoing treatment for any of these for six months or more.
But the list doesn’t end there. If you’ve got a chronic or debilitating medical condition (or its treatment) that results in cachexia or wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain that has ignored all other treatments for at least six months, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms – you’re still in!
Plus, the Department of Health can add new qualifying conditions, so the list may grow over time.
Medical Cannabis Access
Arkansas’ Amendment 98 allows patients to shop at registered dispensaries for medical weed, but their program is a lot different than other programs in other states. For example, most medical programs allow patients to grow their own cannabis at home if they choose. In Arkansas, that’s still illegal. All of the weed must be purchased from registered dispensaries.
The trouble is, there are only allowed to be a maximum of 40 of them, spread out through 8 different zones across Arkansas. Right now, there are 38 of them. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission issues five cultivation licenses, and the Alcohol Beverage Control Division oversees the dispensary licenses.
While Amendment 98 opens the door to medical marijuana access, local cities, towns, and counties still hold the keys to some control. They can set zoning restrictions on dispensaries and cultivation facilities. However, an outright prohibition requires a popular vote through Arkansas’ initiative process.
MMJ Patient Registration Form
Legal Limits for Medical Marijuana in Arkansas
Now, let’s talk limits. Patients are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, excluding any weight added by mixing it with food or beverages. However, 2.5 ounces is the maximum amount for a 14-day period. Shopping at a dispensary makes it so that each purchase counts against your balance for any given 14-day period. That said, it doesn’t just reset after 14 days, and the Health Department urges patients to check their real-time balance on their online application website.
However, there are other restrictions in place:
- No cannabis at schools, daycare centers, drug or alcohol treatment facilities, youth centers, correctional facilities, or public places.
- Patients under 21 cannot use or purchase cannabis flower or inhalable forms of THC.
- Smoking cannabis isn’t allowed in the presence of anyone under 14, in a vehicle, aircraft, or motorized watercraft, in front of a pregnant woman, or anywhere it’s likely to impair someone who isn’t a registered patient.
- Driving under the influence of cannabis is still illegal.
- Only those with qualifying medical conditions can use medical cannabis.
- Edibles at licensed dispensaries can’t contain more than 10mg of THC.
- It’s not legal to make your own edibles or grow your own marijuana.
The good news is that Amendment 98 offers some protection for patients. Other medical programs in other states have had to rework their programs to ensure patient rights and reduce discrimination, but Arkansas built it right into the program. Medical cannabis patients have employment protections as well as protections related to child custody, education, and medical care, including organ transplants.
The law says that employers can’t discriminate against someone on the grounds of their status of being a qualifying patient or caregiver. However, businesses still have the right to implement and enforce a drug-free workplace policy. That said, employers may still be able to drug test and take action accordingly.
How to get a medical registration card in Arkansas
Getting your card is pretty simple. We’ll walk you through the nuances for both patients and caregivers below, but here’s the gist of it:
- Must be 18 years or older, -OR- be a minor patient with a parent or guardian applying as a caregiver. Military and National Guard members are excluded from applying.
- Must be a resident of Arkansas with proof of residency. (ie, ID or Driver’s License)
- Must have a qualifying medical condition.
- Must have a doctor write you a certification form.
- Must fill out your application form and send the processing fee.
How to get a medical card as a patient in Arkansas
To become a registered patient in Arkansas, you have to be qualified first. We went over that above. More or less, you’ll fill out the application and meet with a licensed medical doctor in Arkansas, who will determine whether or not you have one of the qualifying conditions. When your doctor agrees, they will write you a certification note that you will submit with your application.
Once you meet the qualifications, proceed to the application process. Start by filling out the patient registry application form and including the physician-written certification with your application. Provide a photocopy of the front of your Arkansas-issued driver’s license or state ID on a full sheet of paper. Don’t forget to pay the non-refundable application fees.
After submitting your application, it might take up to 14 days from the date your application and payment are received to get your card. Once approved, your registry identification card will be mailed to you.
Patient cards need renewal after a certain period. You can renew your card up to 60 days before it expires. The renewal process is similar to the initial application, requiring a new physician-written certification. Processing may take up to 14 days, and your renewed card will be valid for up to one year from the date of issuance.
How to register as a caregiver in Arkansas
Caregivers must be 18 years of age or older. Caregivers are typically chosen by qualifying patients as the people they’ll allow to buy, possess, and administer cannabis medicine to a patient. Caregivers can also be patients, but they’ll need to apply separately. Most caregivers are chosen for minors, where a parent or legal guardian has to register as their child’s caregiver. Caregivers, except parents applying for their own children, are subject to a $34 criminal background check.
Once you meet the qualifications, proceed to the application process for caregivers. Start by filling out the designated caregiver application form. Include the applicable non-refundable application processing fees, and provide any required background check documentation.
Your caregiver application will be reviewed and processed, though it may take a bit longer for caregivers than patients, thanks to the background check. Once approved, caregiver registry identification cards will be issued, usually somewhere around 14-21 days. Caregivers will also have to renew their registration every year, like patients do.
Why get a medical card in Arkansas?
While getting ahold of a medical card is pretty easy, you might still be on the fence about getting one for yourself. But at the end of the day, getting your med card makes everything so much easier on you. Getting your med card means that you no longer have to wait for your illegal weed dealer to show up whenever they feel like it. You can just go straight to the store and buy it yourself.
Dispensaries are great for a lot of reasons. Since they’re regulated, you have easy access to safe, lab-tested cannabis products— including edibles, flower, concentrates, and more. Medical marijuana in Arkansas is rigorously tested in state-of-the-art labs for purity and potency. You can trust that what you’re consuming is safe and effective, which is especially crucial for patients using cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
The best part is that the friendly, knowledgeable budtenders at the dispensary can help educate you and empower you to make more informed decisions to support your goals with cannabis. Unlike your illegal dealer, dispensaries also accept cards, so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash around—and they’re surprisingly budget-friendly. Plus, when you’re a cardholder, you’re legally protected. No more dodging shady dealers or worrying about the quality of what you’re getting. It’s a safer, more reliable way to enjoy cannabis.
Sure, you’re paying more in taxes. But did you know that every time you purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas, you’re contributing to a good cause? A portion of the tax revenue from medical marijuana sales is funneled into cancer research and other vital public health initiatives. So, not only are you helping yourself, but you’re also helping your community by lighting up.
At the end of the day, getting a med card makes everything about buying and using medical marijuana that much easier. It’s not just about getting high; it’s about gaining access to a world of benefits, supporting vital research, saving money, and enjoying cannabis with peace of mind.
For the simplest and most foolproof path to obtaining a medical marijuana card in Arkansas, MedCard is your go-to solution. Our platform seamlessly connects patients with licensed doctors in their state, ensuring a straightforward and hassle-free certification process. With Med Card, you can confidently and easily access the benefits of medical marijuana in Arkansas and walk through the certification process with ease.