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Growing Cannabis In Arkansas

Located in the Southeastern region of the United States, Arkansas covers an area of approximately fifty-three thousand square miles, making it the twenty-ninth largest American state. The population of three million people rate it as the thirty-third most populated state, and thirty-forth most densely populated. The state capital of Little Rock is also the largest city and hub for transportation, business and culture within the state.

Growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas is illegal, and despite the popular vote on November 9th 2016 legalizing the use of medical cannabis for registered patients, the process of issuing state licenses for both growing and dispensing medical cannabis remains ongoing, with regulators having until July 1st 2017 to begin accepting applications for state licenses.

There are currently no medical cannabis dispensaries in Arkansas, and as growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas will remain outlawed, even for registered patients, it looks like it will be some time before you will legally be able to buy medical cannabis from a dispensary.

The legal possession limits for registered medical cannabis patients have yet to be finalized, although the list of qualifying conditions and illnesses has been agreed. Once a patient has been assessed and possesses a physician’s recommendation, they will be able to obtain their cannabis from one of the forty planned licensed dispensaries across the state of Arkansas. Cannabis possession for anyone not registered or qualifying as a patient, will remain illegal, with predefined sentences and punishments.

Possession of less than four ounces for a first offence, may be considered for parole or a conditional discharge, rather than a jail sentence, this isn’t guaranteed however, and possession of any amount of cannabis in Arkansas can lead to a year’s incarceration and a maximum fine of $2,500. Over four ounces is considered a felony charge, with up to six years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Although there are no direct laws regarding growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas, they are covered by the laws governing possession and possession with intent to deliver, depending upon the amount you are caught growing. If the courts decide that the plants are for more than personal use, and are being grown for sale, amounts under four ounces are punishable with up to six years incarceration and a $10,000 fine. While amounts weighing more than four ounces will lead to a mandatory three years and possible ten years jail sentence.

When it comes to growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas the state has a unique law covering equipment. Possession of growing paraphernalia is a class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. So even if you’re not growing cannabis when you are caught, possession of indoor lights, hydroponic tanks, cannabis nutrients or any other equipment that can be used for growing cannabis seeds is also a crime and punishable with up to six years in jail, pretty much the same as getting caught in possession of four ounces then!

While growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas is illegal, it also appears that owning the equipment is too. Until the state issue the necessary licences for the dispensaries, and growers to supply them, the people are in a state of limbo, where medical cannabis is legally permitted for registered and qualifying patients, but unavailable to purchase or grow themselves.

Growing Cannabis Seeds In Arkansas With Reduced Risk

As we have stated, owning the equipment necessary for growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas indoors is illegal, whether you are caught using it for growing or not. Rather a strange rule, but the law nevertheless. This means that growing outdoors offers less of a risk that indoor growing, as it requires little, if any specialized equipment, unless you count the pot it’s growing in! Not that we recommend growing in full view, on your porch, or in the center of your garden.

Whichever method you use, growing cannabis seeds in Arkansas is illegal and will probably lead to a jail sentence, unless your growing one, maybe two, very small and discreet plants, which a judge may decide is strictly for personal use. Although a seasoned smoker may well reduce an ounce of cannabis to ash in a matter of days, judges in Arkansas tend to believe that a months supply of four ounces is really for distribution and sale, and not for personal enjoyment.

Many people in Arkansas are beginning to ‘guerrilla-grow’ a term used a lot on the 420 forums and social media platforms. Guerrilla growing is the art of planting cannabis seeds or seedlings outdoors in remote and secluded locations during the growing season, and hoping for a subsequent harvest later in the year. Although practiced for many years, the rise in both popularity and the quality of autoflowering seeds has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people producing cannabis this way, and the size of some of the harvests they can produce.

Arkansas has a perfect climate for growing cannabis outdoors, with warm temperatures through until late Fall, and long hours of regular daylight and sunshine. Past growers focused upon planting feminized seeds predominately, female-only seeds that produced good quality buds and healthy harvests during the later half of the Fall. Perfect for outdoor growing, feminized cannabis seeds would grow, and the plants vegetate throughout the Spring and Summer, flowering as the daylight hours reduced to around twelve per day, culminating in a heavy, high quality harvest around the end of October.

Autoflowering seeds however, do not need a reduction in daylight hours to commence flowering, instead they grow, flower and completely mature regardless of the light it receives, in fact the longer the sunlight hours, the better and bigger the plant grows, flowers and buds. Their easy to grow nature has led to them often being referred to as ‘throw-and -grow’ seeds, and are the number #1 choice for ‘guerrilla-growers’ across the USA.

Understanding the various types of cannabis seeds you can grow in Arkansas will help you to achieve the best results possible. The highest quality plants and buds, as well as achieving the harvests when you want them.

Feminized Seeds

Perfect for both indoor and outdoor growers across the USA, feminized cannabis seeds produce guaranteed female plants with the characteristics and attributes described. Extremely stable, with repeatable results every time, plants grown from feminized seeds tend to display similar traits such as size, yield, flavor and generated effects. All our promoted feminized seeds are sold with guaranteed delivery and germination.

Regular Seeds

Great for commercial growers and seed producers across many of the cannabis legal states in the USA, but should be avoided by the average grower. Each pack contains a mix of both male and female seeds, and will require sexing. Perfectly stable and natural genetics ensure the highest quality pollen from our selected and promoted male plants, while the females create the highest quality clones with fast and superior rooting abilities.

Autoflowering Seeds

The perfect choice for discreet outdoor growing and have become the most popular choice of ‘guerrilla growers’ across the many illegal-growing states. Small and compact, capable of generating a high quality and worthwhile harvest in under twelve weeks from germination, autoflowering cannabis seeds are easy to grow and generate female-only plants. Choose from a selection of the highest quality and most stable autoflowering strains.

Medical Seeds

Although the state of Arkansas is addressing it’s residents desire to legalize medical cannabis for registered and qualifying patients, it will make them pay for their medicine, rather than allow them the right to freely grow it. We offer a wide selection of cannabis seeds offering a variety of uses from stress relief and relaxation, to energizing and creative. All our medical cannabis seeds for sale are guaranteed to germinate, creating the highest quality plant.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, Issue 6 (2016)

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as Issue 6, was on the November 8, 2016, ballot in Arkansas as an initiated constitutional amendment. It was approved.

A “yes” vote supported legalizing medical marijuana for 17 qualifying conditions, creating a Medical Marijuana Commission, and allocating tax revenue to technical institutes, vocational schools, workforce training, and the General Fund.
A “no” vote opposed this amendment to legalize medical marijuana. [1]

This election was one of Ballotpedia’s top 10 state-level races in 2016. Click here to read the full list.

Aftermath

Issue 6, as an amendment to the state constitution, went into effect on November 9, 2016. However, the Department of Health was given up to 120 days after November 9 to adopt rules for the following provisions of the amendment. [2] House Bill 1026 extended some of these requirements from 120 to 180 days.

  • Applications for and renewals of registry identification cards;
  • Labeling and testing standards;
  • Caregivers assisting patients who are physically disabled or under the age of 18;
  • Oversight, recordkeeping, and security requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities;
  • The manufacturing, processing, packaging, and dispensing of marijuana;
  • Procedures for suspending or terminating the licenses of dispensaries and cultivation facilities violating the provisions of the amendment;
  • Procedures for inspections and investigations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities;
  • Advertising restrictions for dispensaries and cultivation facilities;
  • Procedures for the disposal or other use of marijuana not dispensed to a patient;
  • License application and license renewal fees for dispensary and cultivation facilities; and
  • Registration for dispensary agents and cultivation facility agents.

Cultivation license lawsuit

The measure created a Medical Marijuana Commission which is responsible for administering and regulating licenses for dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The measure specified that there could only be awarded between four and eight cultivation facility licenses. Applicants for cultivation licenses were scored by the Medical Marijuana Commission, and a lawsuit was filed by Naturalis Health, which alleged that the scoring procedure for awarding cultivation licenses was flawed after the company had been scored #38 of 95 applicants. The Arkansas Finance and Administration Department, Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, and the Medical Marijuana Commission were defendants in the lawsuit. Naturalis Health claimed the commissioners were biased and had conflicts of interest and that the top-five scoring applicants had “outright violations” in their applications. [3] [4]

In March 2018, Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that the state’s process for awarding cultivation licenses was unconstitutional. This ruling prevented the Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding licenses to the top-five businesses it had identified as the highest scoring applicants. [4] In April 2018, in response to Griffen’s ruling, state officials said the Medical Marijuana Commission would stop processing applications for dispensaries. On June 21, 2018, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed Griffen’s ruling, and ruled that Griffen did not have the jurisdiction to halt the licenses from being awarded. The Medical Marijuana Commission may now grant cultivation licenses and move the state’s medical marijuana program forward. As of June 2018, more than 5,000 Arkansas residents had been approved for medical marijuana and were expected to receive registry cards before marijuana is legally available across the state. [5]

On July 2, 2018, the Medical Marijuana Commission adopted a non-binding proposal to discuss hiring an independent consultant to conduct reviews and score dispensary applicants. [6]

On July 10, 2018, the state Medical Marijuana Commission awarded licenses to five cultivation companies: Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, Bold Team LLC, Natural State Wellness Enterprises, Osage Creek Cultivation, and Delta Medical Cannabis Co. [7]

HB 1400

House Bill 1400 (HB 1400) was designed to make modifications to Issue 6, as the initiated amendment authorized legislators to change certain parts without referring the changes to voters. Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-87) sponsored the bill. HB 1400 would ban people from smoking marijuana in certain locations, including (a) anywhere smoking tobacco is illegal; (b) in the presence of a person under 14 years of age; (c) inside a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorized watercraft, or any vehicle drawn by power other than muscle; (d) knowingly in the presence of a pregnant woman; and (e) in a place where smoking marijuana is likely to cause another person not permitted to use to be under the influence of marijuana. HB 1400 would also ban anyone under the age of 21 from smoking marijuana for medical purposes. [8]

The bill would require warning labels on medical marijuana products that communicate “the health and safety risks associated with smoking and a list of places and conditions in which smoking marijuana for medical use is illegal in the State of Arkansas.” [8]

On March 17, the House passed HB 1500, with 88 representatives in favor and zero against. An additional 12 did not vote on the bill. The Senate passed the bill, 31 to 1 with three members not voting or excused, on March 23, 2017. [9] Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the bill.

HB 1026

Arkansas Rep. Douglas House (R-40) introduced a bill, titled House Bill 1026 (HB 1026), to change the date that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division needed to have rules established for dispensaries and cultivation facilities and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission needed to set up a licensing process from 120 days to 180 days after the election. [10] The bill also changed the date that dispensaries and cultivators could apply for licenses from June 1 to July 1, 2017. [11] On January 17, 2017, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed the bill. The Arkansas Senate passed the bill on January 19, 2017. [12] Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1026 on January 24, 2017. [13]

HB 1058

House Bill 1058 (HB 1058) was filed on December 27, 2016. The bill eliminated the requirement that a physician declare in writing that “the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.” Rep. Douglas House (R-40) said doctors may feel uncomfortable making such a declaration. [14] House Bill 1058 kept intact the requirement that physicians provide written certification stating the patient has a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. It also stated that patients’ medical marijuana records are not considered medical records, although they are confidential. On January 17, 2017, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed the bill. The Arkansas Senate passed the bill on January 23, 2017. [15] Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1026 on January 24, 2017. [13]

Election results

Issue 6
Result Votes Percentage
a Yes 585,030 53.11%
No 516,525 46.89%

Election results from Arkansas Secretary of State

Overview

Status of medical marijuana in Arkansas

Going into the election, the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes was illegal, with voters having narrowly defeated an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in 2012. Prior to the passage of Issue 6, medical marijuana was legal in 25 states, and cannabis oil was legal in an additional 15. While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, enforcement of federal marijuana laws is often not strict against state-legal medical marijuana. In December 2014, Congress passed a law that prohibits federal agents from raiding medical marijuana growers in states where medical marijuana is legal, effectively allowing states to legalize medical marijuana. [16]

Initiative design

Issue 6 legalized marijuana for medical use in Arkansas. The measure allowed for the establishment and regulation of marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities. It applied state and local taxes on sales to medical marijuana. The measure was designed to allocate revenue from these taxes to cover administration costs and then, of the remaining revenue, 50 percent to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, 30 percent to the General Fund, 10 percent to the workforce training programs, 5 percent to the Department of Health, 4 percent to Alcoholic Beverage Control administrative and enforcement divisions, and 1 percent to the Medical Marijuana Commission. The measure permitted voters to ban marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities in their municipalities. Issue 6 authorized the Arkansas Legislature to amend sections of the amendment, except the sections legalizing medical marijuana and setting the number of dispensaries, by a two-thirds vote. [17]

State of ballot measure campaigns

Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana outraised opponents six to one. Supporters received about $1.77 million, while opponents received $285,112. Polls indicated a close race, with the last poll before the election showing support at 50 percent. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) opposed the measure.

Text of measure

Popular name

The popular name was as follows: [17]

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 [18]

Ballot title

The ballot title was as follows: [17]

An amendment to the Arkansas constitution making the medical use of marijuana legal under state law, but acknowledging that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law; establishing a system for the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities and granting those dispensaries and facilities limited immunity; providing that qualifying patients, as well as dispensary and cultivation facility agents, shall not be subject to criminal or civil penalties or other forms of discrimination for engaging in or assisting with the patients’ medical use of marijuana; requiring that in order to become a qualifying patient, a person submit to the state a written certification from a physician licensed in the state that he or she is suffering from a qualifying medical condition; establishing an initial list of qualifying medical conditions; directing the Department of Health to establish rules related to the processing of applications for registry identification cards and the addition of qualifying medical conditions if such additions will enable patients to derive therapeutic benefit from the medical use of marijuana; directing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to establish rules related to the operations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing a Medical Marijuana Commission of five members, two appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, two appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one appointed by the Governor; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall administer and regulate the licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; providing that there shall be at least 20 but not more than 40 dispensary licenses issued and that there shall be at least four but not more than eight cultivation facility licenses issued; setting initial maximum application fees for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing qualifications for registry identification cards; establishing standards to ensure that qualifying patient registration information is treated as confidential; directing the Department of Health to provide the General Assembly annual quantitative reports about the medical marijuana program; setting certain limitations on the use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients; establishing an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana; establishing registration and operation requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; setting limits on the amount of marijuana a dispensary may cultivate and the amount of marijuana a dispensary may dispense to a qualifying patient; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall determine the amount of marijuana a cultivation facility may cultivate; prohibiting certain conduct by and imposing certain conditions and requirements on physicians, dispensaries, dispensary and cultivation facility agents, and qualifying patients; establishing a list of felony offenses which preclude certain types of participation in the medical marijuana program; providing that the sale of usable marijuana is subject to all state and local sales taxes; providing that the state sales tax revenue shall be distributed 5% to the Department of Health, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division, 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission, 10% to the Skills Development Fund, 50% to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, and 30% to the General Revenue Fund; and permitting the General Assembly by two-thirds vote to amend sections of the amendment, except that the General Assembly may not amend the sections legalizing the medical use of marijuana and setting the number of dispensaries or cultivation facilities allowed. [18]

Constitutional changes

The following amendment was added to the Arkansas Constitution: [1] Note: Use your mouse to scroll over the below text to see the full text.

This amendment shall be known and cited as the “Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016”.

As used in this amendment:

(1) “Acquire” or “acquisition” means coming to possess marijuana by means of any legal source herein authorized, not from an unauthorized source, and in accordance with this amendment and any rules promulgated under this amendment;

(2) “Assist” or “assisting” means helping a qualifying patient make medical use of marijuana by enabling the medical use by any means authorized under this amendment;

(3) “Cardholder” means a qualifying patient, a dispensary agent, a cultivation facility agent, or a designated caregiver;

(4) “Cultivation facility” means an entity that:

(A) Has been licensed by the Medical Marijuana Commission under § 8 of this amendment; and (B) Cultivates, prepares, manufactures, processes, packages, sells to and delivers usable marijuana to a dispensary;

(5) “Cultivation facility agent” means an employee, supervisor, or agent of a cultivation facility who:

(A) ls twenty-one (21) years of age or older; (B) Works at the cultivation facility; and (C) Has registered with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division under § 9 of this

(A) “Designated caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age, has not been convicted of an excluded felony offense, has agreed to assist a physically disabled qualifying patient with the medical use of marijuana, and who has registered with the Department of Health under § 5 of this amendment. (B) “Designated caregiver” includes without limitation a parent: (i) Of a qualifying patient who is under the age of eighteen (18); and (ii) Required to register as a designated caregiver under this amendment;

(7) “Dispensary’ means an entity that has been licensed by the Medical Marijuana Commission under § 8 of this amendment;

(8) “Dispensary agent” means:

(A) An employee, supervisor, volunteer, or agent of a dispensary who: (i) ls twenty-one (21) years of age or older; (ii) Works at the dispensary; and (iii) Has registered with the division under § 9 of this amendment; and (B) An owner, officer, or board member of a dispensary who has registered with the division under § 8 of this amendment;

(9) “Enclosed, locked facility” means a room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by an authorized individual;

(10) “Excluded felony offense” means:

(A) (i) A felony involving violence. (ii) However, an offense that has been sealed by a court or for which a pardon has been granted is not considered an excluded felony offense; or (B) A violation of a state or federal controlled-substance law that was classified as a felony in the jurisdiction where the person was convicted, but not including: (i) An offense for which the sentence, including any term of probation, incarceration, or supervised release, was completed ten (10) or more years earlier; or (ii) An offense that has been sealed by a court or for which a pardon has been granted;

(11) “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to treat or alleviate a qualifying patient’s qualifying medical condition or symptoms associated with the qualifying patient’s qualifying medical condition;

(12) “Physician” means a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine who holds a valid, unrestricted, and existing license to practice in the state of Arkansas and has been issued a registration from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances;

(13) “Qualifying medical condition” means one (1) or more of the following:

(A) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, or the treatment of these conditions; (B) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one (1) or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; peripheral neuropathy; intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months; severe nausea; seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; and (C) Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health under § 4 of this amendment;

(14) “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a qualifying medical condition and who has registered with the department under § 5 of this amendment;

(15) “Registry identification card” means a document issued by the department or the division that identifies a person as a qualifying patient, a dispensary agent, a cultivation facility agent, or a designated caregiver;

(16) “Sealed” means to expunge, remove, sequester, and treat as confidential the record or records of a felony offense;

(A) “Usable marijuana” means the stalks, seeds, roots, dried leaves, flowers, oils, vapors, waxes, and other portions of the marijuana plant and any mixture or preparation thereof. (B) “Usable marijuana” does not include the weight of any ingredients other than marijuana that are combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink;

(18) “Visiting qualifying patient” means a patient with a qualifying medical condition who is not a resident of Arkansas or who has been a resident of Arkansas for less than thirty (30) days and who is in actual possession of a registry identification card or its equivalent that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the United States and pertains to a qualifying medical condition under this section; and

(A) “Written certification” means a document signed by a physician stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, after having completed a full assessment of the qualifying patient’s medical history and current medical condition made in the course of a physician-patient relationship, the qualifying patient has a qualifying medical condition and the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for- the qualifying patient. (B) A written certification shall specify the qualifying patient’s qualifying medical condition, which also shall be noted in the qualifying patient’s medical records.

§ 3. Protections for the medical use of marijuana.

(a) A qualifying patient or designated caregiver in actual possession of a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with this amendment if the qualifying patient or designated caregiver possesses not more than two and one-half ounces (2 Y2 oz.) of usable marijuana.

(1) A qualifying patient or designated caregiver is presumed to be lawfully engaged in the medical use of marijuana in accordance with this amendment if the qualifying patient or designated caregiver is in actual possession of a registry identification card and possesses an amount of usable marijuana that does not exceed the amount allowed under this amendment. (2) The presumption made in subdivision (b)(1) of this section may be rebutted by evidence that conduct related to marijuana was not for the purpose of treating or alleviating the qualifying patient’s qualifying medical condition or symptoms associated with the qualifying medical condition in accordance with this amendment.

(c) A qualifying patient or designated caregiver shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau, for giving, or offering to give, up to two and one-half ounces (2 1/2 oz.) of usable marijuana to a qualifying patient or designated caregiver for the qualifying patient’s medical use when nothing of value is transferred in return.

(d) A designated caregiver is not prohibited from receiving compensation or reimbursement of expenses from a qualifying patient for assisting a qualifying patient with the medical use of marijuana.

(e) A dispensary may:

(1) Accept marijuana seedlings, plants, or usable marijuana from: (A) Cultivation facilities; (B) Other dispensaries in Arkansas; and (C) If permissible under federal law, out-of-state dispensaries; (2) Transfer or sell marijuana seedlings, plants, or usable marijuana to: (A) Cultivation facilities; (B) Other dispensaries in Arkansas; and (C) If permissible under federal law, out-of-state dispensaries; and (3) Accept marijuana seeds from any individual lawfully entitled to possess marijuana seeds, seedlings, or plants under the laws of the state in which the individual resides.

(1) A school or landlord shall not refuse to enroll, refuse to lease to, or otherwise penalize an individual solely for his or her status as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver unless doing so would put the school or landlord in violation of federal law or regulations. (2) For the purposes of medical care, including without limitation organ transplants, a qualifying patient’s authorized use of marijuana in accordance with this amendment is considered the equivalent of the authorized use of any other medication used at the direction of a physician and does not constitute the use of an illicit substance. (3) An employer shall not discriminate against an individual in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the individual’s past or present status as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver.

(g) A person otherwise entitled to custody of, or visitation or parenting time with, a minor shall not be denied custody, visitation, or parenting time solely for conduct allowed under this amendment, nor shall there be:

(1) A finding of abuse solely for conduct allowed under this amendment; or (2) A presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this amendment.

(1) A physician shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by the Arkansas State Medical Board or by any other business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau, solely for providing a written certification. (2) Subdivision (g)(1) of this section does not prevent a professional licensing board from sanctioning a physician for failing to properly evaluate a patient’s medical condition or for otherwise violating the applicable physician-patient standard of care.

(i) A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau, for providing a qualifying patient or designated caregiver with marijuana paraphernalia for purposes of facilitating the qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana.

(j) Any marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, licit property, or interest in licit property, that is possessed, owned, or used exclusively in connection with the medical use of marijuana as allowed under this amendment, or property incidental to such use, shall not be seized or forfeited.

(k) A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau, simply for being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marijuana as allowed under this amendment or for directly assisting a physically disabled qualifying patient with the medical use of marijuana.

(1) A registry identification card or its equivalent that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the United States that allows a visiting qualifying patient to possess or use marijuana for medical use in the jurisdiction of issuance has the same force and effect when held by a visiting qualifying patient as a registry identification card issued by the Department of Health if the same qualifying medical condition exists. (2) (A) A visiting qualifying patient may obtain marijuana from a dispensary upon producing evidence of his or her registry identification card or its equivalent that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the United States. (B) The department shall promulgate necessary rules concerning a visiting qualifying patient obtaining marijuana from a dispensary.

§ 4. Qualifying Patient – Administration and Enforcement – Rules.

(1) The Department of Health shall administer and enforce the provisions of this amendment concerning qualifying patients, qualifying medical conditions, and designated caregivers, including without limitation the issuance of a registry identification card to a qualifying patient and designated caregiver. (2) The department shall adopt rules necessary to: (A) Carry out the purposes of this amendment; and (B) Perform its duties under this amendment. (3) Rules adopted under this section are rules as defined in the Arkansas Administrative

Procedure Act, § 25-15-201 et seq.

(b) Not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the effective date of this amendment, the department shall adopt rules governing:

(1) The manner in which it considers applications for and renewals of registry identification cards; (2) Labeling and testing standards for marijuana distributed to qualifying patients; and (3) Any other matters necessary for the department’s fair, impartial, stringent, and comprehensive administration of this amendment.

(1) Not later than one hundred eighty (180) days after the effective date of this amendment, the department shall adopt rules that govern the manner in which the department considers petitions from the public to add medical conditions or treatments to the list of qualifying medical conditions set forth in §2 of this amendment. (2) In considering a petition, the department shall add medical conditions or treatments to the list of qualifying medical conditions set forth in §2 of this amendment if patients suffering from the medical conditions or undergoing the treatments in question would derive therapeutic benefit from the use of marijuana, taking into account the positive and negative health effects of such use. (3) (A) The department shall, after hearing, approve or deny a petition within one hundred twenty (120) days of submission of the petition. (B) The approval or denial of a petition constitutes final agency action, subject to judicial review, and jurisdiction for judicial review is vested in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.

§ 5. Registry identification cards.

(a) The Department of Health shall issue registry identification cards to qualifying patients and designated caregivers who submit in accordance with the rules promulgated by the department:

(1) Written certification issued by a physician within thirty (30) days of the application; (2) (A) A reasonable application or renewal fee as established by the department by rule. (B) The department may establish a sliding scale of application and renewal fees based upon a qualifying patient’s family income; (3) The name, address, and date of birth of the qualifying patient or designated caregiver, except that if the applicant is homeless, no address is required; (4) For a designated caregiver application: (A) The name of the physically disabled qualifying patient or qualifying patient under the age of eighteen (18) whom the applicant will be assisting; and (B) Documentation from the qualifying patient’s physician indicating that the qualifying patient is physically disabled or under the age of eighteen (18); (5) The name, address, and telephone number of the qualifying patient’s physician; and (6) A signed statement from the qualifying patient or designated caregiver pledging not to divert marijuana to anyone who is not allowed to possess marijuana under this amendment.

(b) The department shall not issue a registry identification card to a qualifying patient who is under eighteen (18) years of age unless:

(1) The qualifying patient’s physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and to a parent, guardian, or person having legal custody of the qualifying patient; and (2) A parent, guardian, or person having legal custody: (A) Consents in writing to: (i) Allow the qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana; (ii) Assist the qualifying patient in the medical use of marijuana; and (iii) Control the acquisition of the marijuana, the dosage, and the frequency of the medical use of marijuana by the qualifying patient; and (B) Registers as a designated caregiver under this amendment.

(1) The department shall review the information contained in an application or renewal submitted under this section within fourteen (14) days of receiving it. (2) The department shall deny an application or renewal if the: (A) Applicant previously had a registry identification card revoked; or (B) Department determines the written certification was not made in the context of a physician-patient relationship or that the written certification was fraudulently obtained. (3) Rejection of an application or renewal is considered a final agency action, subject to judicial review, and jurisdiction is vested in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.

(1) A registry identification card expires one (1) year after the date of issuance unless the physician states in the written certification that he or she believes the qualifying patient would benefit from the medical use of marijuana only until a specified earlier date. (2) If the written certification specifies an earlier date, the registry identification card shall expire on that date.

(1) An application or renewal and supporting information submitted by a qualifying patient or designated caregiver under this amendment, including without limitation information regarding the qualifying patient’s physician, are considered confidential medical records. (2) (A) (i) The department shall maintain a confidential list of the persons to whom the department has issued registry identification cards. (ii) The department may share information from the confidential list under this subsection with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division and the Medical Marijuana Commission as necessary. Confidential information shared with the division or commission shall remain confidential while in the division’s or commission’s possession. (B) Individual names and other identifying information on the confidential list are confidential, exempt from the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, § 25-19-101 et seq., and not subject to disclosure except to authorized employees of the department, division, and commission as necessary to perform official duties of the department, division, and commission. (3) The department shall verify to law enforcement personnel whether a registry identification card is valid without disclosing more information than is reasonably necessary to verify the authenticity of the registry identification card. (4) A person, including without limitation an employee or official of the department, division, commission, or another state agency or local government, who knowingly breaches the confidentiality of information obtained under this amendment commits a Class A misdemeanor.

(1) Except as provided in§ 3 of this amendment, a cardholder who transfers marijuana to a person who is not a qualifying patient or designated caregiver under this amendment shall have his or her registry identification card revoked and shall be subject to any other penalties established by law. (2) The department may revoke the registry identification card of any cardholder who knowingly violates any provision of this amendment, and the cardholder is subject to any other penalties established by law. (3) This subsection does not prohibit: (A) A qualifying patient or designated caregiver from giving up to two and one-half ounces (2 1/2 oz.) of usable marijuana to another qualifying patient or designated caregiver as set forth in §3 of this amendment; or (B) The transfer of marijuana seedlings, plants, or usable marijuana as set forth in § 3 of this amendment.

(h) The department, division, and commission shall submit to the General Assembly an annual report that does not disclose any identifying information about cardholders or physicians but contains at a minimum:

(1) The number of applications and renewals filed for registry identification cards; (2) The nature of the qualifying medical conditions of the qualifying patients; (3) The number of registry identification cards revoked and the number of licenses to operate a dispensary and licenses to operate a cultivation facility revoked; (4) The number of physicians providing written certifications for qualifying patients; (5) The number of licensed dispensaries; (6) The number of licensed cultivation facilities; (7) The number of dispensary agents; and (8) The number of cultivation facility agents.

(a) This amendment does not permit a person to:

(1) Undertake any task under the influence of marijuana when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice; (2) Possess, smoke, or otherwise engage in the use of marijuana: (A) On a school bus; (B) On the grounds of a daycare center, preschool, primary or secondary school, college, or university; (C) At a drug or alcohol treatment facility; (D) At a community or recreation center; (E) In a correctional facility; (F) On any form of public transportation; or (G) In a public place; or (3) Operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorized watercraft, or any other vehicle drawn by power other than muscle power while under the influence of marijuana.

(b) This amendment does not require:

(1) A government medical assistance program or private health insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana unless federal law requires reimbursement; (2) An employer to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in a workplace or an employee working while under the influence of marijuana; (3) An individual or establishment in lawful possession of property to allow a guest, client, customer, or other visitor to use marijuana on or in that property; (4) An individual or establishment in lawful possession of property to admit a guest, client, customer, or other visitor who is inebriated as a result of his or her medical used of marijuana; or (5) A landlord to permit a qualifying patient to smoke marijuana on or in leased property, except that a landlord may not prohibit the medical use of marijuana through means other than smoking on leased property by a qualifying patient.

§ 7. Affirmative defense and dismissal for medical use of marijuana.

(a) Except as provided in § 6 of this amendment and this section, an individual may assert a medical purpose for using marijuana as an affirmative defense to prosecution for an offense involving marijuana intended for the individual’s medical use, and this defense shall be presumed valid and the prosecution shall be dismissed where the evidence demonstrates that the individual is:

(1) A qualifying patient or a designated caregiver; and (2) In compliance with the conditions set forth in § 3 of this amendment.

(b) The defense and motion to dismiss shall not prevail if either of the following are proven:

(1) The individual’s registry identification card had been revoked at the time of the alleged offense; or (2) The purposes for the possession of marijuana were not solely for medical use.

(c) An individual is not required to be in actual physical possession of a registry identification card to raise the affirmative defense set forth in this section.

(d) If an individual demonstrates a medical use of marijuana under this section, except as provided in§ 6 of this amendment, the individual shall not be subject to the following:

(1) Disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or bureau; or (2) Forfeiture of any interest in or right to nonmarijuana, licit property.

§ 8. Licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

(1) Dispensaries and cultivation facilities shall be licensed by the Medical Marijuana Commission. (2) The commission shall administer and regulate the licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities, including the issuance of a: (i) License to operate a dispensary; and (ii) License to operate a cultivation facility. (3) The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division shall administer and enforce the provisions of this amendment concerning dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

(1) The commission and division shall each adopt rules necessary to: (A) Carry out the purposes of this amendment; and (B) Perform its duties under this amendment. (2) Rules adopted under this section are rules as defined in the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, §25-15-201 et seq.

(c) The following individuals associated with a dispensary or cultivation facility shall be current residents of Arkansas who have resided in the state for the previous seven (7) consecutive years:

(1) The individual(s) submitting an application to license a dispensary or cultivation facility; and, (2) Sixty percent (60%) of the individuals owning an interest in a dispensary or cultivation facility.

(d) Not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the effective date of this amendment, the commission shall adopt rules governing: (1) The manner in which the commission considers applications for and renewals of licenses for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (2) The form and content of registration and renewal applications for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; and (3) Any other matters necessary for the commission’s fair, impartial, stringent, and comprehensive administration of its duties under this amendment.

(e) Not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the effective date of this amendment, the division shall adopt rules governing:

(1) Oversight requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (2) Recordkeeping requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (3) Security requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (4) Personnel requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (5) The manufacture, processing, packaging, and dispensing of usable marijuana to qualifying patients and designated caregivers; (6) Procedures for suspending or terminating the licenses of dispensaries and cultivation facilities that violate the provisions of this amendment or the rules adopted under this amendment, procedures for appealing penalties, and a schedule of penalties; (7) Procedures for inspections and investigations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (8) Advertising restrictions for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; (9) Procedures for the disposal or other use of marijuana not dispensed to a qualifying patient; and (10) Any other matters necessary for the division’s fair, impartial, stringent, and comprehensive administration of its duties under this amendment.

(1) Not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the effective date of this amendment, the commission shall adopt rules establishing license application and license renewal fees for dispensary and cultivation facility licenses. (2) (A) The initial dispensary application fee shall be a maximum of seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500). (B) The initial cultivation facility application fee shall be a maximum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).

(1) Not later than June 1, 2017, the commission shall begin accepting applications for licenses to operate a dispensary and cultivation facility. (2) The application shall include without limitation the following: (A) The application fee; (B) The legal name of the dispensary or cultivation facility; (C) The physical address of the: (i) Dispensary, which location may not be within one thousand five hundred feet (1,500′) of a public or private school, church, or daycare center existing before the date of the dispensary application; or (ii) Cultivation facility, which location may not be within three thousand feet (3,000′) of a public or private school, church, or daycare center existing before the date of the cultivation facility application; (D) The name, address, and date of birth of each dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent; and (E) If the city, town, or county in which the dispensary or cultivation facility would be located has enacted zoning restrictions, a sworn statement certifying that the dispensary or cultivation facility will operate in compliance with the restrictions. (2) None of the owners, board members, or officers of the dispensary or cultivation

(A) Shall have been convicted of an excluded felony offense; (B) Shall have previously been an owner of a dispensary or cultivation facility that has had its license revoked; and (C) Shall be under twenty-one (21) years of age.

(h) The commission shall issue at least twenty (20) but no more than forty (40) dispensary licenses.

(i) There shall be no more than four (4) dispensaries in any one (1) county.

(j) The commission shall issue at least four (4) but no more than eight (8) cultivation facility licenses.

(k) The commission may conduct a criminal records check in order to carry out this section.

(1) No individual shall own an interest in more than: (1) One (1) cultivation facility; and, (2) One (1) dispensary.

(1) A dispensary licensed under this section may acquire, possess, manufacture, process, prepare, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, and dispense marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, and related supplies and educational materials to a qualifying patient or designated caregiver. (2) A dispensary may receive compensation for providing the goods and services

allowed by this section .

(3) (A) A dispensary may grow or possess: (i) Fifty (50) mature marijuana plants at any one (1) time plus seedlings; and (ii) All usable marijuana derived from the plants under subdivision (m)(3)(A)(i) of this section or predecessor plants. (B) A dispensary may contract with a cultivation facility to cultivate one (1) or more mature marijuana plants the dispensary is permitted to grow. (4) (A) (i) A cultivation facility may cultivate and possess usable marijuana in an amount reasonably necessary to meet the demand for and needs of qualifying patients as determined by the commission with the assistance of the Department of Health. (ii) However, a cultivation facility shall not sell marijuana in any form except to a dispensary or other cultivation facility. (B) A cultivation facility may also possess marijuana seeds. (C) The commission with the assistance of the Department of Health shall promulgate rules determining the amount of marijuana reasonably necessary under subdivision (m)(4)(A) of this section. (5) A cultivation facility may receive compensation for providing the goods and services allowed by this section.

(1) A dispensary license and cultivation facility license shall expire one (1) year after the date of issuance. (2) The commission shall issue a renewal dispensary license or a renewal cultivation facility license within ten (10) days to any entity who complies with the requirements contained in this amendment, including without limitation the payment of a renewal fee.

(o) The commission may charge a reasonable fee as established by rule for the issuance of a renewal license.

§ 9. Registration and certification of cultivation facility agents and dispensary agents.

(1) Cultivation facility agents and dispensary agents shall register with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. (2) The division shall administer and enforce the provisions of this amendment concerning cultivation facility agents and dispensary agents, including without limitation the issuance of a: (A) Registry identification card to a dispensary agent; and (B) Registry identification card to a cultivation facility agent.

(1) The division shall adopt rules necessary to: (A) Carry out the purposes of this amendment; and (B) Perform its duties under this amendment. (2) Rules adopted under this section are rules as defined in the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, § 25-15-201 et seq.

(c) Not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the effective date of this amendment, the division shall adopt rules governing:

(1) The manner in which the division considers applications for and renewals of registry identification cards for dispensary agents and cultivation facility agents; (2) The form and content of registration and renewal applications for dispensary agents and cultivation facility agents; (3) Procedures for suspending or terminating the registration of dispensary agents and cultivation facility agents who violate the provisions of this amendment or the rules adopted under this amendment, procedures for appealing penalties, and a schedule of penalties; and (4) Any other matters necessary for the division’s fair, impartial, stringent, and comprehensive administration of its duties under this amendment.

(d) The division may conduct criminal records checks in order to carry out this section.

(e) Except as provided herein, the division shall issue each dispensary agent and cultivation facility agent a registry identification card within ten (10) days of receipt of:

(1) The person’s name, address, and date of birth under this amendment; and (2) A reasonable fee in an amount established by rule of the division.

(1) The division shall not issue a registry identification card to a dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent who has been convicted of an excluded felony offense. (2) The division may conduct a criminal background check of each dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent in order to carry out this provision. (3) The division shall notify the dispensary or cultivation facility in writing of the reason for denying the registry identification card.

(1) A registry identification card for a dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent shall expire one (1) year after the date of issuance. (2) A registry identification card of a dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent expires upon notification to the division by a dispensary or cultivation facility that the person ceases to work at the dispensary or cultivation facility.

(h) The division may charge a reasonable fee as established by rule for the issuance of a new, renewal or replacement registry identification card.

(1) The division may revoke the registry identification card of a dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent who knowingly violates any provision of this amendment, and the cardholder is subject to any other penalties established by law for the violation. (2) The division may revoke or suspend the dispensary license or cultivation facility license of a dispensary or cultivation facility that the division determines knowingly aided or facilitated a violation of any provision of this amendment, and the licenseholder is subject to any other penalties established in law for the violation.

§ 10. Dispensary and cultivation facility Inspections and requirements.

(a) Dispensaries and cultivation facilities are highly regulated by the state, and a dispensary and cultivation facility is therefore subject to reasonable inspection by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

(1) This subsection governs the operations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities. (2) A dispensary and a cultivation facility shall be an entity incorporated in the State of Arkansas. (3) A dispensary and cultivation facility shall implement appropriate security measures to deter and prevent unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana and the theft of marijuana. (4) A dispensary and cultivation facility shall have procedures in place to ensure accurate recordkeeping. (5) Each dispensary shall keep the following records, dating back at least three (3) years: (A) Records of the disposal of marijuana that is not distributed by the dispensary to qualifying patients; and (B) A record of each transaction, including the amount of marijuana dispensed, the amount of compensation, and the registry identification number of the qualifying patient or designated caregiver. (6) Each dispensary and cultivation facility shall: (A) Conduct an initial comprehensive inventory of all marijuana, including without limitation usable marijuana available for dispensing, mature marijuana plants, and seedlings at each authorized location on the date the dispensary first dispenses usable marijuana or the cultivation facility first cultivates, prepares, manufactures, processes, or packages usable marijuana; and (B) Conduct a biannual comprehensive inventory of all marijuana, including without limitation usable marijuana available for dispensing, mature marijuana plants, and seedlings at each authorized location. (7) All cultivation of marijuana shall take place in an enclosed, locked facility. (8) (A) A qualifying patient or designated caregiver acting on behalf of a qualifying patient shall not be dispensed more than a total of two and one-half ounces (2 1/2 oz.) of usable marijuana during a fourteen-day period. (B) A dispensary or a dispensary agent may not dispense more than a total of two and one-half ounces (2 1/2 oz.) of usable marijuana to either a qualifying patient or designated caregiver acting on behalf of a qualifying patient during a fourteen-day period. (C) Each time a dispensary agent dispenses usable marijuana to a qualifying patient or designated caregiver, he or she shall verify that the dispensing of usable marijuana would not cause the qualifying patient or designated caregiver to receive more usable marijuana than is permitted in a fourteen-day period. (D) Each time usable marijuana is dispensed, the dispensary agent shall: (i) Record the date the usable marijuana was dispensed and the amount dispensed; and (ii) Notify the Department of Health in the manner required by the department. (E) The department shall maintain a database that enables a dispensary to verify that dispensing usable marijuana to a qualifying patient or designated caregiver will not cause the qualifying patient or designated caregiver to exceed the amount allowed by law. (F) All records shall be kept according to the registry identification number of the qualifying patient or designated caregiver. (G) It is the specific intent of this Amendment that no qualifying patient or designated caregiver acting on behalf of a qualifying patient be dispensed more than a total of two and one-half ounces (2 1/2 oz.) of usable marijuana during a fourteen-day period whether the usable marijuana is dispensed from one or any combination of dispensaries. (9) The dispensary records with patient information shall be treated as confidential medical records.

§ 11. Immunity for dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

(a) A dispensary or cultivation facility is not subject to the following:

(1) Prosecution for the acquisition, possession, cultivation, processing, preparation, manufacture, delivery, transfer, transport, sale, supply, or dispensing of marijuana and related supplies in accordance with the provisions of this amendment and any rule adopted under this amendment; (2) Inspection, except under § 1O of this amendment or upon a search warrant issued by a court or judicial officer; (3) Seizure of marijuana, except upon any order issued by a court or judicial officer and with due process of law; or (4) Imposition of a penalty or denial of a right or privilege, including without limitation imposition of a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for acting in accordance with this amendment.

(1) A dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, search, seizure, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for working for or with a dispensary or cultivation facility to engage in acts permitted by this amendment. (2) (A) A dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent may possess and manufacture marijuana at the dispensary or cultivation facility location or locations for which the dispensary agent or cultivation facility agent is registered or when transferring marijuana under this section. (B) (i) A dispensary agent who is a volunteer may possess and manufacture marijuana at a dispensary location. (ii) A dispensary agent who is a volunteer may not dispense or transport marijuana. (3) A cultivation facility shall label the marijuana that is moved between the cultivation facility and a dispensary or other cultivation facility with a trip ticket that identifies the cultivation facility by identification number, the time, date, origin, and destination of the marijuana being transported, and the amount and form of marijuana that is being transported.

§ 12. Prohibitions for dispensaries.

(a) Except as provided in § 3 of this amendment, a dispensary may not dispense, deliver, or otherwise transfer marijuana to a person other than a qualifying patient or designated caregiver.

(1) Except as provided in § 3 of this amendment, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division shall immediately revoke the registry identification card of a dispensary agent who has dispensed, delivered, or otherwise transferred marijuana to a person other than a qualifying patient or designated caregiver, and that dispensary agent shall be disqualified from serving as a dispensary agent. (2) A dispensary employing a dispensary agent found to violate subdivision (b)(1) of this section is not subject to penalties, including without limitation the revocation of its license, for the actions of a dispensary agent unless the dispensary knowingly aided or facilitated the violation.

§ 13. Prohibitions for cultivation facilities.

A cultivation facility may sell marijuana plants, seeds, and usable marijuana only to a dispensary or other cultivation facility.

§ 14. Local regulation.

(a) This amendment does not prohibit a city, incorporated town, or county of this state from enacting reasonable zoning regulations applicable to dispensaries or cultivation facilities, provided that those zoning regulations are the same as those for a licensed retail pharmacy.

(b) This section does not allow a city, incorporated town, or county to prohibit the operation of any dispensaries or cultivation facilities in the city, incorporated town, or county unless such a prohibition is approved at an election under Article 5, § 1, of this constitution.

§ 15. Prohibited conduct for physicians.

A physician shall not:

(1) Accept, solicit, or offer any form of pecuniary remuneration from or to a dispensary or cultivation facility provided however, that this does not prohibit a physician who is also a qualifying patient from purchasing usable marijuana from a dispensary; (2) Offer a discount or other thing of value to a qualifying patient who uses or agrees to use a particular dispensary; (3) Examine a patient for purposes of diagnosing a qualifying medical condition at a dispensary; or (4) Hold an economic interest in a dispensary or cultivation facility if the physician certifies the qualifying medical condition of a patient for medical use of marijuana.

§ 16. Failure to adopt rules or issue registry identification cards or licenses.

If the Department of Health, Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, or Medical Marijuana Commission fails to adopt rules to implement this amendment within the time prescribed or fails to issue the minimum number of dispensary licenses or cultivation facility licenses, any person who would be a qualifying patient under this amendment may commence a mandamus action in Pulaski County Circuit Court to compel the department, division, or commission to perform the actions mandated under the provisions of this amendment.

§ 17. Taxation and distribution of proceeds.

(a) The sale of usable marijuana is subject to all state and local sales taxes at the same rate as other goods.

(b) The states sales tax revenues received by the Department of Finance and Administration from the sale of usable marijuana under this amendment shall be distributed as follows:

(1) Five percent (5%) to the Department of Health paying account or its successor fund or fund account; (2) Two percent (2%) to the Miscellaneous Agencies Fund or its successor fund or fund account to be used exclusively by the Department of Finance and Administration – Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division or its successor; (3) Two percent (2%) to the Miscellaneous Agencies Fund or its successor fund or fund account to be used exclusively by the Department of Finance and Administration – Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division or its successor; (4) (A) One percent (1%) to a special revenue account credited to the Medical Marijuana Commission Fund or its successor fund or fund account to be used exclusively by the Medical Marijuana Commission. (B) The General Assembly shall by law created the Medical Marijuana Commission Fund no later than July 1, 2017; (5) (A) Ten percent (10%) to the Skills Development Fund or its successor fund or fund account, to be used exclusively by the Office of Skills Development of the Department of Career Education or its successor for the development and implementation of workforce training programs. (B) The Office of Skills Development of the Department of Career Education or its successor may use revenues received under subdivision (b)(6)(A) of this section to: (i) Supplement or enhance existing programs, including without limitation grant programs; or (ii) Establish new programs, including without limitation grant programs. (C) If the Office of Skills Development of the Department of Career Education or its successor establishes a new program under subdivision (b)(6>(B) of this section, it shall promulgate rules to implement the program; (6) (A) Fifty percent (50%) to a special revenue account credited to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund or its successor fund or fund account, to be used exclusively by the Department of Finance and Administration or its successor for grants to technical institutes and vocational-technical schools for personal services and operating expenses, scholarships, research, development and delivery of education coursework and math and science coursework, land acquisition, equipment acquisition, infrastructure costs, including without limitation site development costs, construction, improvements, landscaping, renovation, dormitory renovation, major maintenance, and the building of roads and parking lots. (B) The General Assembly shall by law create the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund no later than July 1, 2017. (C) The Department of Finance and Administration or its successor shall promulgate rules to implement the grant program described in this subdivision (b)(7) by July 1, 2017; (7) Thirty percent (30%) to the General Revenue Fund.

(c) An entity receiving a grant of state sales tax revenue under subsection (b) of this section may make one (1) or more successive grant applications for the same project or projects.

§ 18. Costs of administration and regulation of amendment.

(a) The following funds shall be used by the Department of Health to perform its duties under this amendment:

(1) State sales tax revenues received under § 17 of this amendment; (2) (A) The revenue generated from fees, penalties, and other assessments of the department provided for by this amendment, including without limitation: (i) Registry identification card application and renewal fees; and (ii) Fees for replacement registry identification cards. (B) Revenue generated from fees, penalties, and other assessments under this amendment shall be used solely for the performance of the department’s duties under this amendment and shall be used for no other purpose; (3) Private donations, if such funds are available; and (4) Other appropriations by the General Assembly, if such funds are available.

(b) The following funds shall be used by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to perform its duties under this amendment:

(1) State sales tax revenues received under § 17 of this amendment; (2) (A) The revenue generated from fees, penalties, and other assessments of the division provided for by this amendment. (B) Revenue generated from fees, penalties, and other assessments of the division under this amendment shall be used solely for the performance of the division’s duties under this amendment and shall be used for no other purpose; (3) Private donations, if such funds are available; and (4) Other appropriations by the General Assembly, if such funds are available.

(c) The following funds shall be used by the Medical Marijuana Commission to perform its duties under this amendment:

(1) State sales tax revenues received under§ 17 of this amendment; (2) The revenue generated from fees, penalties, and other assessments of the commission provided for by this amendment, including without limitation dispensary and cultivation facility application fees, licensing fees, and renewal fees; (3) Private donations, if such funds are available; and (4) Other appropriations by the General Assembly, if such funds are available.

§ 19. Medical Marijuana Commission – Creation.

(a) (1) There is created a Medical Marijuana Commission to determine the qualifications for receiving a license to operate a dispensary or a license to operate a cultivation facility and the awarding of licenses. (2) Each member of the commission shall serve a term of four (4) years. (3) The commission shall consist of five (5) members as follows: (A) Two (2) members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; (B) Two (2) members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and (C) One (1) member appointed by the Governor. (4) Vacancies on the commission shall be filled in the manner of the original appointment. (5) The commission shall select one (1) of its members as chair. (6) An affirmative vote of a majority of a quorum present shall be necessary to transact business.

(1) (A) One (1) of the initial members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall serve a term of two (2) years and one (1) of the initial members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall serve a term of four (4) years. (B) The initial members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall draw lots to determine which member shall serve a term of two (2) years. (2) (A) One (1) of the initial members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall serve a term of two (2) years and one (1) of the initial members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall serve a term of four (4) years. (B) The initial members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall draw lots to determine which member shall serve a term of two (2) years. (3) The initial member appointed by the Governor shall serve a term of four (4) years. (4) All subsequent persons appointed to the commission shall serve a term of four (4) years.

(c) A member of the commission shall be:

(1) A citizen of the United States ; (2) A resident of the State of Arkansas for at least ten (10) years preceding his or her appointment; (3) A qualified elector; (4) At least twenty-five (25) years of age; and (5) Have no economic interest in a dispensary or cultivation facility.

(1) The commission, by a majority vote of the total membership of the commission cast during its first regularly scheduled meeting of each calendar year, may authorize payment to its members of a stipend not to exceed eighty-five dollars ($85.00) per day for each meeting attended or for any day while performing any proper business of the commission. (2) Members of the commission shall receive no other compensation, expense reimbursement, or in-lieu-of payments.

(1) The commission may employ staff necessary to assist in the performance of its duties under this amendment. (2) The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division shall provide staff for the commission if the commission does not have employees available for that purpose.

(1) Initial members of the commission shall be appointed within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this section. (2) The President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall call the first meeting of the commission, which shall occur within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this section.

§ 20. No implied repeal.

(a) By adoption of this amendment, there is no implied repeal of the existing Arkansas laws criminalizing possession of marijuana for purposes not specified in this amendment.

(b) This amendment acknowledges that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remains illegal under federal law.

§ 21. Limitation on growing.

(1) Authorizes the growing of marijuana at a dispensary or cultivation facility that is properly licensed with the state; and

(2) Does not authorize a qualifying patient, designated caregiver, or other person to grow marijuana.

If any provision or section of this amendment or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or application of the amendment that can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications, and to this end the provisions of this amendment are declared to be severable.

§ 23. Amendment by General Assembly.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the General Assembly, in the same manner as required for amendment of laws initiated by the people, may amend the sections of this amendment so long as the amendments are germane to this section and consistent with its policy and purposes.

(b) The General Assembly shall not amend the following provisions of this amendment:

(1) Subsections (a), (b), and (c) of § 3; (2) Subsection (h), (i), and G) of § 8; and (3) Section 23. [18]

Full text

The full text can be found here.

Support

Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana led the campaign in support of Issue 6. [19]

Attorney David Couch of Little Rock, Arkansas, filed the request to circulate the initiative. [20] Couch worked with Arkansans for Compassionate Care in 2012, which sponsored a disqualified marijuana initiative, Issue 7, in 2016. [21] He broke from Arkansans for Compassionate Care in 2016 due to a disagreement over whether patients should be able to grow marijuana plants at home. Couch’s initiative did not authorize patients to grow their own marijuana, whereas Issue 7 would have. [22]

Following Issue 7’s decertification on October 27, 2016, Arkansans for Compassionate Care called on its supporters to approve Issue 6. [23]

Supporters

Officials
Individuals
  • Kara Benca, plantiff in Benca v. Martin and partner in the law firm Benca & Benca [24]
  • Patrick Benca, partner in the law firm Benca & Benca

Arguments

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s 2016 Ballot Issue Guide summarized proponents’ arguments in five bullet points: [25]

  • Polls indicate that over 80 percent of Arkansans support patients being able to use medical marijuana when prescribed by a physician.
  • This proposal doesn’t include a provision allowing patients to grow their own marijuana if they don’t live near a dispensary. It’s a tightly controlled system.
  • Many people know somebody who has been sick and used marijuana to help with their suffering.
  • New jobs would be created – somebody has to build the dispensaries, work in them and supply them with goods.
  • This proposal guarantees that different people own the dispensaries and growing facilities. A for-profit system is necessary for anyone to be able to afford starting a dispensary or cultivation facility. [18]

Other arguments in support of the measure included:

  • David Couch, sponsor of Issue 6, argued, “If a physician believes it is appropriate for his patient then that’s his medical judgment. It should be respected.” [26]

Opposition

Safer Arkansas Communities, Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, and Family Council Action Committee led the campaign against Issue 6. [27] [28] [29] All three were also opposed to Issue 6.

Opponents

Officials
    (R) [30] (R) [31] (R)
  • Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe[32]
Organizations
  • Arkansas Department of Health [33]
  • Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation [34]
  • Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce
  • Arkansas Faith & Ethics Council
  • Arkansas Landlords Association [35]
  • Arkansas School Nurses Association [36]
  • Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators [37]
  • Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families [38]
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Arkansas Chapter
  • Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police [39]
  • Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association
  • FBI National Academy Associates-AR Chapter
  • Arkansas Children’s Hospital [40]
Individuals
  • Kevin Sabet, former Senior Advisor for Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton [41]

Arguments

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s 2016 Ballot Issue Guide summarized opponents’ arguments in five bullet points: [25]

  • The Arkansas Department of Health says there are no scientific evaluations of the dosage and safety of marijuana varieties and preparations. Safe, effective and reproducible treatment options will only come from clinical studies of defined preparations with known composition. A move to simply make marijuana legal in medical circumstances will not accomplish this.
  • There are Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment alternatives for all the medical conditions proposed to be treated with marijuana.
  • This is a brazen move funded by the alcohol industry to build an Arkansas marijuana monopoly.
  • It’s written so broadly that virtually any healthy adult with pain or nausea will be able to finagle a way to use marijuana. There won’t be any prescriptions from a doctor – just a note. No pharmacies will dispense it, and no one will regulate the content or dosage.
  • It will create a hardship for business owners to maintain a drugfree workplace due to the numerous safe guards built into the amendment that protect the user interests over the interests of the employer. [18]

Safer Arkansas Communities released a list of 10 reasons to vote against Issue 6 and Issue 7 on social media. The following was the list: [42]

1). Allow Kids Enticing Pot Candy: Proposals allow for marijuana infused edibles that the marijuana industry manufactures to look just like popular candy and food such as gummy bears and cotton candy. These items have led to a large spike in emergency room visits and poison control calls in other states.

2). Budtenders Not Pharmacists: Marijuana is dispensed by a budtender who has NO medical or pharmacology training that a pharmacist must obtain. Budtenders also have no knowledge of drug interactions and whether they will interfere with other medications you may be taking possibly resulting in serious side effects.

3). It’s De Facto Legalization: Both Issues 6 & 7 were written with the big marijuana industry’s bottom line in mind, not Arkansans overall health. Under them, essentially anyone could obtain a note (no prescription) for marijuana due to the long list of qualifications they allow.

4). It’s Not the Marijuana of Woodstock: Today’s marijuana is a much more potent product than what it was just 20 or 30 years ago. Back then the average psychoactive ingredient, THC, was around 2-3% whereas now it’s averaging 15-20% in the smoke-able form. There are now marijuana oils that are up to 98% pure THC being sold elsewhere that would also be marketed here.

5). No Way to Keep Pot Our of Communities: One proposal requires that marijuana dispensaries be allowed to operate wherever a pharmacy is located, even next to an ice cream store where you take your family. The other one allows jurisdictions to ban dispensaries, but then you have to allow home growing of it, potentially next door to your family.

6). The State Will Be Required to Buy People Pot: The guidelines in one of the proposals dictates that any additional funding that taxes generate be used to buy marijuana for people that can’t afford their own.

7). It will Increase the Size of State Government: The proposals will require numerous additions to state agencies in an attempt to regulate the industry. Regulations that are nearly (intentionally) impossible to enforce will further bloat government bureaucracy.

8). Bad for Business: Employees who use marijuana—even those who are under the influence on the job—would have special rights where they cannot be reprimanded or fired for using marijuana if an employer cannot prove impairment. They contain anti-discrimination language for marijuana users and employers could be required to incur expenses to provide an accommodation for workers who are marijuana users.

9). No Advertising Limits: Marijuana companies will have free reign to market their products that are geared towards enticing children and ensuring new future customers. Under the cover of a green cross and labeled as medicine, they will be able to normalize it’s use while increasing their financial gain.

10). Will Negatively Effect Our Children: No fonduing is provided to schools and will lead to less money to help our children succeed as the need for additional prevention resources will further strain limited funding. Children who use marijuana have lower academic performance and it has been shown to lower IQ’s 6-8 points, often permanently. [18]

Other arguments against the measure included:

  • Jerry Cox, Executive Director of the Family Council Action Committee, argued, “This is simply a back-door way for otherwise healthy people to be able to buy marijuana, sell marijuana, smoke marijuana, use it in food, so forth and so on.” [29]

Other positions

The Arkansas Democratic Party endorsed legalizing medical marijuana in August 2016. Democrats called for “the development of a responsible medical marijuana program that will receive patients in need of such relief the freedom to access this remedy.” [22] [43]

Campaign finance

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Arkansas ballot measures

Total campaign contributions:
Support: $1,773,935.25
Opposition: $285,111.77

As of February 17, 2017, the support campaign for Issue 6 featured two ballot question committees, Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana and Informing Arkansas, that received a total of $1,773,935.25 in contributions. The support campaign had spent $1,771,680.33. [19]

As of February 17, 2017, the opposition campaign for Issue 6 featured three ballot question committees. In total, opponents raised $285,111.77. The first committee was Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, which received $255,880 in contributions. The second was the Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities, which raised $6,636. The third was the Family Council Action Committee, which received $22,596. [27]

According to reports through February 17, 2017, the top donor in support of Issue 6, Broadleaf PSG LLC, contributed $642,078 in cash donations. The top donor opposing the initiative, Mountaire Corporation, provided $50,750.

Support

Cash donations

The following ballot question committee registered to support Issue 6 as of February 17, 2017. The chart below shows cash donations and expenditures current as of February 17, 2017. [19]

Committee Amount raised [44] Amount spent
Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana $299,457.82 $299,060.08
Informing Arkansas $888,521.00 $886,663.82
Total $1,187,978.82 $1,185,723.90
In-kind donations

As of February 17, 2017, the ballot question committee registered to support Issue 6 received in-kind donations in the amount of $585,956.43. The top in-kind donor, Broadleaf PSG LLC, contributed $411,686.94. [19]

Top donors

As of February 17, 2017, the following were the top donors in support of Issue 6: [19]

Donor Cash In-kind Total
Broadleaf PSG LLC $230,391.00 $411,686.94 $642,077.94
Vantage Investment $626,521.00 $0.00 $626,521.00
Bevans Family Limited Partnership $325,548.95 $174,269.49 $499,818.44

Opposition

Cash donations

The following ballot question committees registered to oppose Issue 6 as of February 17, 2017. The chart below shows cash donations and expenditures current as of February 17, 2017. [27]

Note: The Family Council Action Committee provided $50,750 to Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana. This amount is calculated out of the aggregate total to avoid duplicating funds. See methodology section for more information.

Committee Amount raised [45] Amount spent
Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana $255,879.98 $251,566.55
Family Council Action Committee $22,595.80 $17,680.82
Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities $6,635.29 $6,635.79
Total $285,111.77 $275,883.16
Top donors

As of February 17, 2017, the following were the top five donors in opposition to the initiative: [27]

Donor Cash In-kind Total
Mountaire Corp. $50,750.00 $0.00 $50,750.00
Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation $25,000.00 $0.00 $25,000.00
SAM Action Inc. $25,000.00 $0.00 $25,000.00
ASAPAC (Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s PAC) [46] $10,000.00 $0.00 $10,000.00
Arkansas Heart Hospital $10,000.00 $0.00 $10,000.00

Methodology

To read Ballotpedia’s methodology for covering ballot measure campaign finance information, click here.

Polls

  • Public Opinion Strategies polled 600 Arkansans in June 2016. The firm found support to be around 63 percent and opposition to be around 35 percent. [47]
  • In mid-September 2016, Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College conducted a poll that asked about Issue 6. The poll found a plurality, but not a majority, in support of Issue 6. [48]
  • On October 21, 2016, Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College surveyed 463 likely voters on Issue 6. Opponents had a five-point lead over supporters in the poll. [49]
  • The Arkansas Poll, housed at the University of Arkansas, surveyed 800 adults in late October 2016 on Issue 6. The poll found support for the measure at 50 percent. [50]
  • Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College conducted a poll of 751 likely voters asking about the general issue of medical marijuana. The question was not specific to Issue 6 or Issue 7. The survey found support to be around 58 percent. [51]

Background

Issue 5 (2012)

In 2012, Arkansans for Compassionate Care collected enough signatures to put an initiated state statute designed to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot. Under the measure, patients with possession of cards issued by the Arkansas Department of Health would have been allowed to purchase and carry marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana would have been purchased from dispensaries or cultivated by the patients themselves from a cannabis plant. Patients would have been limited to a maximum of six plants per person. [52]

Voters narrowly defeated the proposal, which was titled Issue 5, with 51.44 percent voting “no” and 48.56 percent voting “yes.”

Medical marijuana

As of May 2021, 36 states and Washington, D.C., had passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana. Additionally, 10 states had legalized the use of cannabis oil, or cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the non-psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana—for medical purposes. [53] In one state—Idaho—medical marijuana was illegal, but the use of a specific brand of FDA-approved CDB, Epidiolex, was legal. [54] Based on 2019 population estimates, 67.5 percent of Americans lived in a jurisdiction with access to medical marijuana.

Unique instances

Idaho: In 2015, the Idaho State Legislature passed a bill legalizing certain types of CBD oil that was later vetoed by Governor Butch Otter (R). In response, Otter issued an executive order allowing children with intractable epilepsy to use Epidiolex in certain circumstances. [55]

South Dakota: In 2019, the South Dakota State Legislature passed a bill amending one section of law by adding Epidiolex to its list of controlled substances. The bill also exempted CBD from the state’s definition of marijuana in that section. [56] Elsewhere in state law, CBD was not exempted from the definition of marijuana. This discrepancy led to confusion that left the legal status of CBD in the state unclear for a year. [57]

After the 2019 changes, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) issued a statement, wherein he argued all forms of CBD oil, apart from Epidiolex, were illegal under state law. [58] Several state’s attorneys expressed disagreement with the Attorney General’s statements. Aaron McGown and Tom Wollman, state’s attorneys for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, respectively, issued a joint statement where they said the discrepancy left legality open to differing interpretations. Mark Vargo, the Pennington County state’s attorney, said his office would not prosecute CBD cases based on his interpretation of the state law. [57]

On March 27, 2020, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed House Bill 1008 into law, which legalized industrial hemp and CBD oil in the state. [59]

Issue 6 vs. Issue 7

Issue 6 and Issue 7 were competing measures until the Arkansas Supreme Court struck Issue 7 from the ballot on October 27, 2016. [60]

Issue 6 was an initiated constitutional amendment known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. As the measure was an amendment, it prohibited the Arkansas Legislature from making marijuana illegal again without voter approval. Issue 6 was approved.

Issue 7 was an initiated state statute known as the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act. As the measure was a statute, the Arkansas Legislature would have been permitted to make medical marijuana illegal again with a two-thirds supermajority vote in each legislative chamber. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck Issue 7 from the ballot.

Why two measures?

Prior to the October 27, 2016, Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in Benca v. Martin that struck Issue 7 from the ballot, there were two initiatives designed to legalize medical marijuana on the Arkansas ballot. While there were a number of differences between the two, one difference in particular led measure sponsors to propose separate initiatives. This difference was what is called a “grow-your-own” provision. Issue 7 would have allowed some patients to grow marijuana at home for medical use. Issue 6 did not. David Couch, sponsor of Issue 6, worked for Issue 7’s sponsor, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, in 2012, when the group’s Issue 5 was defeated. Couch believed a major reason for the 2012 initiative’s defeat was its “grow-your-own” provision.

Melissa Fults, director of Arkansas for Compassionate Care, asked Couch to drop his initiative. She pleaded, “Please do not place thousands of sick and dying Arkansans’ future in jeopardy. Patients need safe and legal access to cannabis and if you continue we risk losing the best chance that we’ve ever had. Placing two initiatives on the ballot will cause both to fail.” [61]

Comparison of provisions

The following table compares the different provisions of Issue 6 and Issue 7. Some rows of this table are adapted and modified from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s 2016 Ballot Issues Guide. [25]

Issue Issue 6
Medical Marijuana Amendment
Issue 7
Medical Cannabis Act
Changes to law Adds an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution Adds a Chapter 65 to Arkansas Code Title 20
Provisions regarding patients and patient use
Qualifying conditions 17 qualifying patient conditions 56 qualifying patient conditions
Patient identification card fee Application and renewal fees set by the Department of Health Fees may not exceed $50 per year, and a sliding scale must be created
Grow-your-own provision Does not authorize patients to grow marijuana Authorizes patients who live more than 20 miles from a dispensary to grow marijuana
Amount distributed Dispensaries can distribute up to 2.5 ounces per patient every 14 days Dispensaries can distribute up to 2.5 ounces per patient every 15 days
Patient choice of dispensary Patient can purchase at any dispensary Patient can purchase at a designated dispensary
College campuses Prohibits use on college campuses Does not prohibit use on college campuses
Provisions concerning government
Revenue allocation Revenue allocated to cover administration costs and, of the remaining revenue, 50 percent to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, 30 percent to the General Fund, 10 percent to the workforce training programs, 5 percent to the Department of Health, 4 percent to Alcoholic Beverage Control administrative and enforcement divisions, and 1 percent to the Medical Marijuana Commission Revenue allocated to cover administration costs and, of the remaining revenue, provide medical cannabis to low-income qualifying patients
Regulating agency for patients The Arkansas Department of Health The Arkansas Department of Health
Regulating agency for dispensaries A new Medical Marijuana Commission and the Alcohol Beverage Control The Arkansas Department of Health
Local prohibition Voters can prohibit dispensaries and facilities in local communities No provision for local prohibition
Provisions regarding dispensaries and cultivation facilities
Number of dispensaries Between 20 and 40 in the state, but no more than four in any one county One dispensary for every 20 pharmacies; About 39 dispensaries at time of implementation
Dispensary nonprofit requirement No requirements for dispensaries to be nonprofits Requirement for dispensaries to operate on a not-for-profit basis
Testing labs Does not require marijuana testing labs Requires labs to test for quality
Residency requirements for dispensaries and facilities Owners must be Arkansas residents No residency requirement
Disqualification from marijuana work Any felony conviction related to violence or violation of controlled substance law within past 10 years Any felony conviction
Background checks for marijuana workers Optional Required
Dispensary advertisement restrictions Department of Health can regulate advertisements No regulation of advertisements

Qualifying conditions

The following specific qualifying diseases and medical conditions would have been covered under Issue 6 and Issue 7: [1] [62]

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Arthritis [63]
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Positive Status for HIV and/or AIDS
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces Wasting Syndrome or cachexia
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces peripheral neuropathy
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces intractable pain
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces severe nausea
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces seizures
  • Chronic or debilitating disease that produces severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Arkansas Department of Health

The following specific qualifying diseases and medical conditions would have been covered under Issue 7 but not Issue 6: [62]

  • Adiposis Dolorosa (Dercum’s Disease)
  • Anorexia
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Bulimia
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)—Types I and II
  • Dystonia
  • Emphysema
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Posterior Lateral Sclerosis(PLS)
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Residual Limb and Phantom Pain
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  • Spinal Cord Injury and/or disease (including but not limited to Arachnoiditis)
  • Syringomelia
  • Tarlov Cysts
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Path to the ballot

Supporters of Issue 6, an initiated constitutional amendment, had until July 8, 2016, to submit 84,859 valid signatures. Further, proponents were required to collect signatures equaling at least 5 percent of the previous gubernatorial votes in at least 15 of the state’s counties. For example, if 1,000 people voted for governor in a county, the signatures of 50 qualified electors would be required.

After rejecting multiple versions of submitted ballot titles and summaries, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) approved this initiative for circulation on February 17, 2016. In her previous rejection letters, Rutledge stated that the proposed ballot titles and summaries were too vague or ambiguous. [64] [20]

Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana submitted more than 106,000 signatures on July 8, 2016. [65] Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) verified 72,309 of the necessary 84,859 signatures. Since over 75 percent of them were legitimate, Martin’s office granted the supporting campaign an additional 30 days to collect the remainder. [66] David Couch, the primary sponsor of the initiative, turned in an additional 35,000 signatures on August 19, 2016. [67] The secretary of state’s office certified Issue 6 on August 31, 2016. [68]

Cost of signature collection:
Sponsors of the measure hired ERH Solutions and National Ballot Access to collect signatures for the petition to qualify this measure for the ballot. A total of $588,166.35 was spent to collect the 84,859 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $6.93.

Litigation

  

Lawsuit overview
Issue: Ballot title misinformation
Court: Arkansas Supreme Court
Ruling: Ruled in favor of defendants, allowing a vote on the measure
Plaintiff(s): Toni Rose and Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana Defendant(s): Secretary of State Mark Martin
Plaintiff argument:
Ballot title omitted pertinent information, including ability for dispensaries to sell food and drinks that contain marijuana and legalization’s potential effects on local social institutions
Defendant argument:
Ballot title was succinctly and accurately worded

Toni Rose and Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana filed litigation against Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) on September 6, 2016. Rose argued that Issue 6’s ballot title failed “to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and import of the proposed Amendment.” First, the plaintiff argued that the amendment sets limitations on possession, not use, of marijuana, despite the ballot title reading “use.” David Couch, sponsor of Issue 6, responded, “I think it’s very hard to use something you don’t possess.” Second, Rose alleged that the ballot title fails to communicate to voters that the amendment permits dispensaries to sell food and drink containing marijuana. Third, the ballot title does not tell voters that employers can’t fire employees based on medical marijuana use, landlords can’t refuse to lease based on medical marijuana use, and schools can’t refuse to enroll students based on medical marijuana use. Couch said the amendment was designed to treat marijuana like a medical drug, and while individuals cannot be fired or refused service due to their medications, people can be fired or refused service for being high. Fourth, Rose claimed that the title does not tell voters that doctors, lawyers, and other professionals cannot be denied a license to practice due to medical marijuana use. Couch responded, saying that a professional abusing medical marijuana, just like other drugs, can be disciplined. [69] [70]

On October 13, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendant, keeping Issue 6 on the ballot. Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson wrote the opinion. She wrote: [71]

… the petitioner’s arguments call for an interpretation of the amendment. However, this court does not interpret a proposed amendment or discuss its merits or faults. For these reasons, we find no merit in the petitioner’s arguments. We conclude that while inside the voting booth, the voters will be able to reach an intelligent and informed decision for or against The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. [18]

Related measures

The first attempt to legalize marijuana through the initiative process came in 1972, when California activists got an initiative certified for the ballot. The measure was defeated. Marijuana legalization advocates had their breakthrough election in 2012, when both Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Oregonians rejected a legalization measure that same year, but approved one two years later in 2014. As of the beginning of 2016, recreational marijuana had been legalized in four states and Washington, D.C. All legalizations came through the initiative process. As of the beginning of 2016, medical marijuana was legal in 25 states. [72]

More than 60 statewide marijuana-related initiatives were submitted for the 2016 ballot. The table below shows the marijuana-related measures that qualified for the 2016 election ballot:

Marijuana measures on the ballot in 2016
State Measures
Florida Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2  a
North Dakota North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization, Initiated Statutory Measure 5  a
Arizona Arizona Marijuana Legalization, Proposition 205  d
Nevada Nevada Marijuana Legalization, Question 2  a
Montana Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative, I-182  a
California California Proposition 64, California Marijuana Legalization  a
Maine Maine Marijuana Legalization, Question 1  a
Massachusetts Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization, Question 4  a

The following table includes past initiative attempts in the United States to legalize marijuana:

State Year Measure Status
Arizona 2016 Proposition 205 d
California 2016 Proposition 64 a
Maine 2016 Question 1 a
Massachusetts 2016 Question 4 a
Nevada 2016 Question 2 a
Ohio 2015 Legalization Initiative d
Alaska 2014 Ballot Measure 2 a
Oregon 2014 Measure 91 a
Washington, D.C. 2014 Initiative 71 a
Colorado 2012 Amendment 64 a
Oregon 2012 Measure 80 d
Washington 2012 Initiative 502 a
California 2010 Proposition 19 d
Nevada 2006 Question 7 d
Alaska 2004 Measure 2 d
Nevada 2002 Question 9 d
California 1972 Proposition 19 d

State profile

Demographic data for Arkansas
  Arkansas U.S.
Total population: 2,977,853 316,515,021
Land area (sq mi): 52,035 3,531,905
Race and ethnicity**
White: 78% 73.6%
Black/African American: 15.5% 12.6%
Asian: 1.4% 5.1%
Native American: 0.6% 0.8%
Pacific Islander: 0.2% 0.2%
Two or more: 2.1% 3%
Hispanic/Latino: 6.9% 17.1%
Education
High school graduation rate: 84.8% 86.7%
College graduation rate: 21.1% 29.8%
Income
Median household income: $41,371 $53,889
Persons below poverty level: 22.9% 11.3%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “American Community Survey” (5-year estimates 2010-2015)
Click here for more information on the 2020 census and here for more on its impact on the redistricting process in Arkansas. **Note: Percentages for race and ethnicity may add up to more than 100 percent because respondents may report more than one race and the Hispanic/Latino ethnicity may be selected in conjunction with any race. Read more about race and ethnicity in the census here.

Presidential voting pattern

Arkansas voted Republican in all six presidential elections between 2000 and 2020.

Pivot Counties (2016)

Ballotpedia identified 206 counties that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 after voting for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012. Collectively, Trump won these Pivot Counties by more than 580,000 votes. Of these 206 counties, one is located in Arkansas, accounting for 0.5 percent of the total pivot counties. [73]

Pivot Counties (2020)

In 2020, Ballotpedia re-examined the 206 Pivot Counties to view their voting patterns following that year’s presidential election. Ballotpedia defined those won by Trump won as Retained Pivot Counties and those won by Joe Biden (D) as Boomerang Pivot Counties. Nationwide, there were 181 Retained Pivot Counties and 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties. Arkansas had one Retained Pivot County, 0.55 percent of all Retained Pivot Counties.

More Arkansas coverage on Ballotpedia

Recent news

The link below is to the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. These results are automatically generated from Google. Ballotpedia does not curate or endorse these articles.

Marijuana Growing Guide: Cannabis in Arkansas

All the way down south, you will find a state in the USA that is filled to the brim with beautiful lakes, breathtaking views, and some of the best restaurants you will find anywhere in the country. Arkansas is, without a doubt, somewhere anyone would enjoy taking a vacation trip to. But as amazing as it sounds, are people able to buy marijuana seeds in Arkansas?

As avid fans of marijuana, we cannot help but wonder what the cannabis scene is like over in Arkansas. There are bound to be a few stoners in The Natural State and it still remains a mystery as to how they buy marijuana seeds in Arkansas. So, let’s take a closer look at how cannabis impacts this state’s economy and what it truly is like over there.

History of Cannabis in Arkansas:

The use and possession of marijuana and other cannabis-containing products were explicitly banned statewide in Arkansas in 1923. This was also the same year that states such as Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico decided to follow suit in the countrywide ban of cannabis. For many years, stringent laws had been governing cannabis ever since it had been classified as a dangerous drug. Prior to recent years, partaking in any cannabis activity resulted in misdemeanor, penalties of around $2,000 to $6,000, as well as serving prison time depending on the severity of the offense.

During 2006, citizens of Arkansas voted in favor of making cannabis and marijuana activities the “lowest priority” for enforcement agencies, with around 65% of the state’s residents believing that marijuana poses no major threat to the community. Later on, in 2012, Issue #5 (also known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act) was drafted in order to make citizens decide if medical marijuana were to be legalized statewide. Unfortunately, this ended with people voting against its permitted utilization.

A few years later, on November 8th, 2016, the Arkansas State Department had approved of Issue #6, a subsequent bill formed to push for the legalization of medical cannabis. This allowed medical patients to seek advice from an attending physician and, if qualified, make use of medicinal weed for certain conditions. This also called for the establishment of up to 40 medical marijuana dispensaries as well as up to 8 producers of medical strains to provide for the supply of the state.

Is Cannabis Legal in Arkansas? Know the Rules and Regulations of Cannabis:

In terms of using medical cannabis, it is highly regulated and subject to many different rules and regulations. While the use and consumption of such are now legalized and decriminalized, it is still quite hard to get your hands on it. While patients will have to undergo a series of tests and processes in order to see if they are qualified, only a select number of medical conditions are authorized to be treated with medical cannabis.

On the other hand, adult use and cultivation of marijuana for recreational purposes are still highly banned and prohibited. Breaking the state’s anti-drug policies will result in various penalties and criminal charges depending on the city that you are in.

Who regulates cannabis in Arkansas?

The Medical Marijuana Program in Arkansas is governed by the state’s very own Department of Health (ADH). Through them, patients and caregivers register and apply for the required medical cards and certificates in order to classify themselves as such. Furthermore, the establishments which produce and distribute the supply of medical cannabis all over the state of Arkansas are headed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABCD). They are also responsible for making sure that these establishments are duly certified and authorized to operate in a certain capacity.

Working hand in hand with the ABCD for the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries is the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission , which was established under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment program to further regulate the use and cultivation of medical marijuana.

Cannabis Rules and Regulations to buy marijuana seeds in Arkansas:

Arkansas sees itself as a law-abiding state that is capable of providing the benefits of medical marijuana all the while heavily regulating it. This gives both users and authorities the power to stay away from the adverse effects of weed. Here are some of the most important rules and regulations in Arkansas pertaining to weed:

  • Only certified and state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to supply qualified patients and caregivers with the needed amount of medicinal cannabis prescribed to them.
  • Consumption of medical cannabis is to be done strictly at home and away from the public.
  • Cultivation of marijuana plants, even for medical purposes, is strictly prohibited . All supplies of medical marijuana must be obtained from licensed dispensaries and official clinics registered under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission .
  • For medical purposes, patients and caregivers are allowed to possess and/or purchase up to 71 grams of medical marijuana. They are also permitted to replenish their supply every 14 days .
  • Possession of marijuana of any amount that is not intended for medical purposes is subject to criminal charges. The penalties and prison time for possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis will depend on the amount and degree of the said violation.
  • In order to qualify for the medical marijuana program, they must be recognized as patients of certain health conditions . Additionally, they must have an official prescription from a qualified physician as well as proof of their residency in the state of Arkansas .
  • Adults who are aged 18 years or older are allowed to apply and register under the Medical Marijuana program whereas minors under the age of 18 will need parental consent.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA CONDITIONS:

Here is a list of the medical conditions that are authorized to make use of medical marijuana:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Arthritic pains
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Hepatitis C
  • Chronic pain (persistent pain despite medications)
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Immune deficiency syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Muscle spasms/Joint inflammation/Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Glaucoma
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Other conditions with the approval of the Department of Health

While the cannabis scene in Arkansas is strictly applicable only to medical marijuana, the state looks to be heavily reliant on the said substance for treatment purposes. Despite it seems like there is no push for the legalization of recreational cannabis any time soon, we should just be hoping that it would change in the future. Up until then, health patients looking for an alternative way of treatment should make do to the availability