Sales of medical marijuana in Arkansas are off to a strong start, with patients purchasing more than 50 pounds of cannabis in nearly 5,000 transactions in the first week dispensaries were open.

The initial sales eclipsed those in Ohio, which has nearly four times the population.

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With sales underway, the Arkansas market could grow at a rapid clip, with several new dispensaries expected to open next month, more patients likely to register for MMJ identification cards, and new license types designed to create more business opportunities.

In addition, the 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook estimates sales in Arkansas will reach $15 million-$20 million in 2019.

Here’s what you need to know about medical marijuana sales in Arkansas:

  • Arkansans purchased 52 pounds of cannabis over 4,787 transactions during the first week of sales – an average of 5 grams per transaction – estimated at $353,802 in pretax receipts, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
  • Arkansas generated these sales figures from just two dispensaries – Doctors Orders Rx began sales in Hot Springs on May 10 while Green Springs Medical opened May 12, also in Hot Springs. By comparison, initial medical marijuana sales in Ohio averaged $248,000 per week with four operating dispensaries.
  • By May 13, the two dispensaries had brought in $93,000 in sales – demonstrating strong patient demand for medical cannabis.
  • Despite more than two years of delays, patients continued to apply for medical ID cards. The state had just over 12,000 patients as of mid-May – a 121% increase over patient counts in June 2018.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, attributed the state’s strong first-week sales to patient interest in the program.

“Now that dispensaries are selling product, the number of patients could grow at an even faster rate,” Hardin said. “I think that 20,000 patients is a very feasible number for us in the near future.”

Hardin said some Arkansans are waiting for dispensaries to open nearby before they register for the program. He noted that “several” additional dispensaries are expected to complete their final inspections and begin selling product next month.

Initial sales have been restricted to dry flower as the state’s processors come online. Sales will likely see a boost when the state introduces infused edibles, concentrates and vape cartridges in the coming weeks, Hardin added.

The state will also create more business opportunities this year when it finalizes rules for new marijuana distribution and cannabis processing licenses.

There will not be a limit on the number of those licenses, which means more entrepreneurs will be able to participate in Arkansas’ market.

Maggie Cowee can be reached at maggiec@mjbizdaily.com

Joey Peña can be reached at joeyp@mjbizdaily.com