Arkansas aims for early 2019 medical marijuana launch

(This article has been updated from an earlier version to note that state regulators have approved a rule allowing the state to hire a consultant to help review pending license applications.)

After a months-long delay due to a court ruling, Arkansas is developing a plan that could result in the state’s medical cannabis program launching in early 2019, a state official said Tuesday.

Scott Hardin, communications director at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, told Marijuana Business Daily that regulators could award five cultivation licenses as soon as July 9 and the product could be on the shelf in the first few months of 2019.

Meanwhile, the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission approved a rule allowing regulators to hire an independent third party to review what are now 227 pending dispensary applications, a move aimed at alleviating public concerns about the process.

Hardin wrote in an email that such an outside review also would likely take less time than for the commission to grade the 500-plus page applications itself. A total of 32 dispensary licenses will be issued under the MMJ program.

Arkansas’ medical marijuana program was approved by voters in 2016 but hit a snag when a judge ruled the process for awarding cultivation permits was unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court recently reversed the lower-court order, but regulators had already stopped reviewing MMJ applications.

58 comments on “Arkansas aims for early 2019 medical marijuana launch
  1. Linda Boyd on

    I feel this is just too much ! all the people that need the medical marijuana to survive are not being considered…. from the outside looking in it seems the revenue from the sales and how it is taxed is the top priority here.. please expedite this process

    Reply
    • Angela on

      Please, this’ll be my second reply, so why do we The Arkansas have to continue to get the run around?? That’s medical negligence on the behalf of the denial of adequate Medications required by Law??!!

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      • Andrea on

        Absolutely, my father needs this so badly, I’m afraid he’s not going to make it long enough to get the medicine that would actually help him.

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      • Gary S. on

        I am in full agreement that this is medical neglance on the behalf of the political BS. Too continue to deny patients medical Marijuana that has been prescribed by qualifying Doctors , Gross Neglance. Wake up Arkansas and please give us the medication we have went through the legal process to aquire.God bless.

        Reply
          • P.DeHart on

            Who are this heartless folks in Little Rock that are short-stoping the implementation of this law and are coming up for re-election this coming November?
            We are average Americans. And, unfortunately we are among those that have these debilitating and painful diseases. We need to make our feelings known on Election Day by voting out those that could care less about our suffering and way, way, more about billable hours padding their pockets.

      • Angry Veteran on

        I grew up in Arkansas and I can tell you what’s happening:
        The good-old-boys who run the state are stalling it for as long as possible. Arkansas tends to reject all change, good or bad. All a lot of them know is what they saw on movies like Reefer Madness. Others know better but the status quo has made a lot of people wealthy and powerful. Compassion and even common sense aren’t even factors when there is so much money and power involved.
        Frankly, what the anti-cannabis lobby has done and is doing is nothing short of treason. It’s subversion and malfeasance at the very least.

        Reply
    • James L Dunn on

      I’m going to file a lawsuit against the the state of Arkansas, for deliberately backpedaling,on what the majority voted for in 2016. Why haven’t we all filed a lawsuit, may just be the kick in the ass,that lawmakers need to do their damned jobs. It’s unconstitutional!!!

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      • Donna B on

        A-Men to that. It is torturing all of us who have been waiting for almost 2 years to get this started. I was so happy when it was finally voted in. But the wait is getting harder on those of us who are praying to get off of prescription pain meds o at least as much as we can get off of. I’ve already came really close to over dosing and thanks to my husband who found me and rushed me along with all of the medications I am on to the hospital. For 3 of the 4 day’s I was in he hospital I didn’t know my husband or any of my family. I was one of the lucky ones. My sister in-law wasn’t. She passed away at the young age of 50.
        So please get off the pot as they say and get this to us people who really need it.

        Reply
      • David on

        I would love to join that law suit i to am a medical patient who is also facing a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge and I’m going to trial on in Bentonville Ar where is justice for Arkansas patients.

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        • Gary Patterson on

          I too have lost my sister to overdose. Medical marijuana may have made a difference. I have an appointment with my attorney to see if I can file a lawsuit for myself because I need to get med. MJ. I don’t want to end up like my sister. Please join the band wagon.

          Reply
    • Bethanie Wight on

      I would like to know, when i finally receive my script in the mail, will I be able to purchase my medicine? It will be expired and the script i returned to DHS office said it wld only be good for a year. It cost me $250.00 for the doc and $50 for the filing with DHS. Are they going to back date the scripts? Its been since 2016… I just hope they dont recharge me.. Does anyone know the answer to that?

      Reply
  2. kevin brand on

    I agree on the expidite I myself have arthritis in my back and if I I use I can’t get my kids back from DHS even if using helps my pain so please will the government hurry up and get through this so I can get relief for my pain and not take a chance if losing my kids because my kids are as important to me as my my relief and I am a card holder that is when the Arkansas department of health relaeses my card

    Reply
  3. Chris on

    Guess that worthless committee our wonderful governor put together, didn’t do anything toward the dispensary selection but sit on there thumbs!

    Reply
  4. Jill on

    I’m an approved patient and am just waiting on my card as well….please help us here!!! They shud have had thevl dispensaries ready by now but WE THE PEOPLE…doesn’t feel that way!!! Please MMC…let’s get em picked! Can our growers grow yet as well? Please let Me know. Thank you, Jill

    Reply
    • Thom on

      I agree! Greed runs the world it seems so if they want the most revenue from cannabis it should be legalized (in ALL forms by the way)!

      In the mean time liquor is destroying families, drunk drivers continue to kill and It’s all OK because it feeds the pockets of politicians and big business.

      If EVERYONE that is fed up would find out who they’re representitives are and remind them that they are (supposedly) working for us, and also let them know how ridiculous it is that we have to wait this long for what is a true medicine. Remind them also that we don’t have to vote for them again if they don’t start helping the people that voted medical cannabis in!

      Please stand up and be heard instead of just complaining about it!!

      Reply
  5. Green leaf on

    Greed !! All greed at the Sick expense!!!! We need to vote them out on next term. Everyone with a card should start calling all the people that we can to have them call , email state reps , governor office and ABC board , Marijuanna Board , at every state branch call them tie their lines up let them know how ticked off you are. Have your family and friends call as well.

    Reply
  6. Green leaf on

    And further more vote these clowns out of office when their terms comes up. Vote them out !!!! Vote them OUT !!!!!!!!

    Reply
  7. slim jim on

    Any state legislator for my district I am going to vote against next election for allowing this long delay to take place. If they were doing their jobs this would have been taken care of long ago! I urge you to do the same, lets send a message.

    Reply
  8. Cindy on

    I completely agree! I have been waiting patiently. I went though the process to get a medical marijuana card. The process was not exactly easy. It it was costly for me to go though the process to be eligible. I feel that we have waited patiently and when u r in constant pain everyday is a struggle well as feeling hopeless that what I voted for didn’t make any difference. It is past time for this process to be available for people that really need it.

    Reply
  9. Cindy July 8th 2018 on

    I completely agree! I have been waiting patiently. I went though the process to get a medical marijuana card. The process was not exactly easy. It it was costly for me to go though the process to be eligible. I feel that we have waited patiently and when u r in constant pain everyday is a struggle well as feeling hopeless that what I voted for didn’t make any difference. It is past time for this process to be available for people that really need it.

    Reply
  10. Jason on

    I have already been pre-approved and don’t want to publish the reason (actually nobody cares). I have said this before on other websites but here it goes again. Other states move at warp speed on medical marijuana and we move at the speed of a baby giraffe on ice. The will of the voters said lets roll with this. You idiots involved in making something happen need to put this on the fast track. Our state gets a bad rap and is usually toward the bottom in all national standings….road conditions, teachers pay, obesity, education and so on. Now add how slow this process is going and we continue that last in line mentality. What a cluster!!!

    Reply
  11. Joy on

    This is all Asa’s fault. He has done everything behind the scenes possible to stop and slow down this process. People need their medicine. I will be voting for Jared Henderson in November! Maybe he can speed this process up.

    Reply
  12. Humphrey Bogarts on

    This is all at the fault of Asa! He is very anti cannabis and if you remember former head of the DEA. He doesn’t want it here and he will purposely continue to screw the voters who voted to legalize in 2016 as he’s ignoring every voter and the law to push his own agenda on our lives. It doesn’t matter to him what you voted for all he cares about is making his contributors who line his pocket happy and he’ll continue to throw in monkey wrenches with golfing buddy judges to make this stall for as long as he can. Do NOT re-elect this self serving voter ignoring greedy politician back to office. Its time Arkansas stands up for change and not this backwards way its been for many years.

    Reply
  13. Green leaf on

    I sent my rep a letter telling him I’m forming a group to stop all re-elect in Arkansas. I want the whole bunch out for keeping a new med out of voters hands for what looks like 2 years and longer. I want the whole bunch OUT of office. Shame on greed taking over compassionate care. I hope you all read this. Copy and paste in other forms. Get all these people out of office .. us voters can do this together. Get the greedy Asa out and state reps and state legislators and all that branch out. Get them all out of office !!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Travis Reed on

    My name is Travis Reed. I am a 100% service connected disabled veteran with severe PTSD and mild to moderate TBI. I have been having flashbacks to the point of I don’t know what is real and what is not. I am on alot of medications from the VA that do not work. I have severe anxiety everyday, am very tense, I shake constantly and have migraines. I just bought a beautiful home in Huntsville for my wife, my 5 kids and myself. I did this due to medical marijuana law passing and I am a medical marijuana patient that has been waiting patiently just like all the other patients but my patience is run very then due to my mental health. I have had my battle brothers and sisters that live in Colorado offer me a place to stay to live so I can get relief and get back to normal daily activities. I am scared to bring marijuana back and won’t do it but something has got to give. All I’m trying to do is be a good husband and father to my children. Here lately, it has been hard to get out of bed because I am wore out from the nightmares and flashbacks and severely depressed. I have had suicidal ideation. When I smoke, my mood is regulated enough to where I have a smile on my face and want to do things. Also, it telieves the tension I’m holding in my body and eliminates the migraines. I am in Dyer need of relief. I am asking as a man that served his country proudly, have had over 300 combat missions and have been shot in my right and left leg. These dates keep getting pushed back and it looks like it’s never going to happen. I read where Georgia decriminalized it to where they can get it from another state as long as they don’t get caught bringing it. Which, is about the dumbest damn law to put people at risk but hey, y’all need to get it done here cause I will take the risk In benfit for me being who I want to be for my family. My wife and kids know all about how it helps me and are very educated on it because it is a medicine for Daddy and works for him. Please, Arkansas, do something now. Quit dragging your feet. We have veterans killing themselves everyday and one of my battles pulled the trigger not to long ago. Veterans are not the only ones that suffer. We have alot of civilians in need of there medicine. I fought for our freedom and I am willing to fight my ass off to get something going for us now. If anyone has any suggestions, please let.me know and we will do this together as I will stand in front of each and everyone of you. Thank you, Travis Reed.

    Reply
    • Jimmy edwards on

      Me and my brother have back problems and arthritis my brother is also a Iraq freedom veteran has done two deployments over thear he to suffer from ptsd and depression anxiety we need to us patient that have Ben approved for the mmj card stand together agents the political asshol who don’t know what pain are government is so screwed in the head like this trump who is screwing are country and taking advantage of us patient that suffer every day in pain. I want to thank everyone that has served in the service thank for fighting for us in times of war me and my wife pray for y’all service man and woman who fought for are freedom god bless yall

      Reply
    • Lori Rester on

      Thank you for your service and your story!!!! I am willing to fight past my social anxiety to stand with you and fight for this.

      Reply
    • Donna B. on

      Thank You So Much for your service! I was approved for the card as well. It seems like it has been forever since we were all approved. I suffer from chronic back pain as well as several other problems and health conditions.
      I just want to the pain to go away completely although it is not possible. But as you said it is way past time for them to get off their butts and get us the medication we need. Crossing my fingers for all of us.

      Reply
    • Judy Rascoe on

      I’m with you. Anyone aware of where the holdup lies politically ,other than Asa please mention names .the majority voted the medicine in and the majority can vote them out. I don’t appreciate the push on getting the opiates out and no trying to help address the issue by taki g over 2 years to get med mj on the market in Ar.opiates are reported to be an epidemic and I am getting off them for my health and to do my share. Question is WHEN? Already certified and almost beyond patient. Everybody vote. A simple thank you does not help when people are in emotional and physical pain. But thank you vets.

      Reply
    • Lee Marr on

      This is so tragic! Did you all know people with Crohn’s disease can be NORMAL with CBD tincture? It works best with a balance of CBD/THC. It DOESN’T GET YOU HIGH or make you drowsy.
      The standard medical treatment is chemotherapy drugs with tons of side effects, or removal of the colon &/or lower intestine, so you are condemned to life with a colostomy bag to defecate in.
      Hmmm… which would you prefer? A few drops of tincture once a day, or drastic maiming surgery that can kill you?
      Rally Arkansans! Get out the vote and get into the current century. Most of the rest of the country is already there.

      Reply
    • Angry Veteran on

      I’m in a similar situation. I did three combat deployments to Iraq, during which time I took and returned fire and was hit by 3 IEDs. I wasn’t wounded but got a severe case of PTSD and TBI. It makes me angry that the politicians who claim to support the troops and veterans (some of the same ones who sent us over there in the first place) can’t wait to throw us in jail for possessing a plant that has never killed anyone.
      I asked once if they would prefer I drank (drinking has caused me some serious problems, but that’s another story) and their answer was something to the effect of “You shouldn’t be drinking either; it won’t solve your problems.” It’s ridiculous.
      Not only are they unrealistically puritanical, they’re also greedy and intolerant. I grew up in Arkansas and I know how people there can be. For all their talk about being conservative, you think they would want to stop pouring billions of dollars into the Drug War, which is not only unconstitutional but has been an abject failure. They don’t care about anyone else’s civil rights, since they don’t use cannabis.

      Reply
  15. Joyce on

    Will those of us that paid good money for a prescription in 2017 have to pay for another prescription? Besides the litigation, this process has taken way too long to get this program up and running!

    Reply
  16. Green Leaf on

    I hope The disabled get reduced prices right out of the gate. Shame on you all that slowed down the process. EVERYONE really needs to contact their state Rep and voice your in with voting NO on ALL re-elect positions in Arkansas

    Reply
  17. Carla Tyler on

    I am with all of you on this VOTE them out. Or lets get together and file a civil suit. We need our medication. I got approved back in Feburary. My doctor had no problems filling out the form for me. He was excited that I had this option. This has gone on to long. Anyone reply to my message. And let me know if ya’ll want to form a group, I am in all the way. Lets VOTE them OUT. Lets march lets do what we have to do.

    Reply
  18. Don England on

    Comments are a waste of time, The State of Arkansas, everyone involved, could give a rats ass to what you think and feel about this subject.

    Reply
  19. Don England on

    What should be a subject on the marijuana subject is replacing all sitting representatives in Little Rock, around the State, Cotton and Boozman. I received letters from Cotton, Boozman and Womack saying they would not support anything to do with marijuana.

    Reply
  20. ELDON on

    I was so happy when we voted in medical cannabis. I thought that it was all about money. I have come to understand that It’s political. People on the board doing everything possible to delay us from getting a different medicine. There is a lot of money involved from the end users to the growers. It is time to remind people that we passed an amendment to the constitution of Arkansas and it’s time to enforce the will of the people.

    Reply
  21. James on

    As I have said before, you have been approved so go ahead and do you’re thing,screw waiting on a damn card,give you’re money to someone and not the state, they could care about you and needs.

    Reply
  22. ArkansasGoddess on

    This whole process of bringing Medical Cannabis to Arkansas has gotten as slow and crooked as a dried-up creek.
    Slipping a last-minute Issue funded by Big Canna on the November 2016 ballot to confuse voters was the first in a slew of attempts to take this important Issue out of the hands and control of the citizens of Arkansas.
    We, the Citizens of the Great State of Arkansas, began efforts to pass this legislation (there was no need to make a change to the Constitution) more than a year in advance of the first vote in 2012. Many citizens worked hard to get enough signatures to bring it to a vote. That attempt was voted down but 49% were for Medical Cannabis while 51% were against it.
    So the group tried again from scratch in 2016, beginning the gathering of signatures (a process that failed in 2014 because of misunderstandings about the deadline to turn in the Petition.
    I carefully read the wording of both issues that ended up on the ballot and it was clear that the superior law was the one devised by the group of Arkansawyers. It was clear they were concerned about making this about the Health and Quality of Life of the citizens of Arkansas, not simply a way to increase tax revenue or devise a system that is so restrictive, late in its implementation and stepped on by every conservative entity in Little Rock—yes, I’m addressing this to you, Asa Hutchinson, former head of the DEA.
    The MMJ law as devised by the group who has fought long and hard for Medical Cannabis, was elegant in its simplicity. It included a much less restrictive and expensive process to apply for a permit to open and operate Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. Just think of the boon to the dismal state economy if we allowed enterprising Arkansawyers to start a new business in the MMJ industry. By not artificially restricting the number of Dispensaries there would be healthy competition with the sharpest, best staffed, well-stocked Dispensaries to openly compete in the Marketplace. Counties and municipalities are free to have their voters try to restrict the sale of Medical Cannabis in their jurisdictions. But to deny folks in large metropolitan areas like NWA and Little Rock multiple enough Dispensaries to compete for their business is going to cause shortages in product if they must be restricted to selling cannabis cultivated by the small handful of legal growers sanctioned by the State. Do you expect them to sow and harvest a crop during the winter—unless it’s an inside grow.
    The sheer hubris of denying those who live a great distance from the handful of approved Dispensaries the right to grow cannabis for their personal medical use shows us that those in power in Little Rock care little about those who sent them to the Statehouse. The version of the bill that passed required a large amount of money from those who just wanted to submit an application. The bill that passed not only changed the State’s Constitution—which should not be dealt with willy-nilly. The current law is also restrictive in the conditions one must have to qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card (which—common sense—should be issued at no charge to those living on Disability).
    So the inferior law now slowly lumbering out of the Capitol is going to be under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms—three things that ought not to be used in conjunction with one another, and certainly not an agency to rely on in a State in which 35 of the 75 Counties don’t even allow sales of any sort of liquor.
    These onerous restrictions almost guarantee that there will be a booming black market in cannabis products. There are seven States across the Nation—Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire & Rhode Island—that allow out-of-staters with a valid MMJ Card to purchase Medical Cannabis. Not to mention that in eight additional States—Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon plus The District of Columbia—sales of cannabis are completely legal to adults age 21 and older.
    That makes it cheaper and easier to buy a wider variety of cannabis products in a State other than Arkansas; and that will affect the sales tax revenue and the bottom line for many Dispensaries. Yeah, it’s technically illegal but that never stopped all those curious folks from “importing” Coors beer back in the days when it wasn’t available East of Texas. Hell it was basis of the movie “Smokey and the Bandit” featuring Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds respectfully.
    Why Arkansas insists on cutting off its nose to spite its face is beyond me. Unless we are so proud of our reputation as Good Ol’ Boy, Stars & Bars waving, gap-toothed rednecks in pickups with gun racks forever competing with Mississippi as the State with the highest rate of illiteracy, high school dropouts, unemployment and citizens living below the Federal Poverty line.
    The number working hours the employees of the State of Arkansas wasted on trying to defy the will of its citizens is way out of proportion with the wrongly perceived downsides of allowing Medical Cannabis sales to those who qualify.
    I am frankly becoming more embarrassed to admit that I’m an Arkansawyer because of the mishandling of a citizen-initiated and approved Medical Cannabis law. Twenty-eight States have managed to implement Medical Cannabis and last time I checked the citizens of those States were not all going to Hell in a Handbasket.
    It’s a crying shame for Arkansas incumbents that they weren’t able to successfully roll out the Medical Cannabis program before the Mid-term Elections. Because a lot of those Good Ol’ Boy, Stars & Bars waving, gap-toothed rednecks in pickups with gun racks who work down in Little Rock are going to be fighting over available jobs at Walmart and McDonalds.

    Reply

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