How to open a dispensary in Arkansas

Overview

Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Arkansas? This page provides the most recent news and information essential to operating a cannabis business in Arkansas. This contains insightful ideas about what is ahead in the future.

Cannabis for recreational use is illegal in Arkansas, however individuals with qualifying conditions and physician consent may use medicinal marijuana.

Arkansas Issue 4, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state. Responsible Growth Arkansas, the sponsor of the initiative, has collected enough voter signatures to put the topic on the ballot for the next midterm elections.

On August 3, 2022, the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners decided against putting the amendment on the November ballot because it did not clearly state if there would be a set THC limit on edibles.On September 22, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the state Board of Election Commissioners’ decision not to certify the constitutional amendment. This made it possible for voters to decide on a measure to legalize cannabis for adults.

During the midterm elections that took place on November 8, 2022, Arkansas Issue 4, also known as the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was on the ballot in the state of Arkansas as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure did not get enough support to pass. Issue 4 was voted down by the people of Arkansas by a margin of 56.3% to 43.7%.

The Opportunity Size

If the initiative to legalize marijuana in Arkansas that will be on the ballot this November is approved by the state’s voters, the cannabis industry in Arkansas could generate nearly $1 billion in annual sales and more than $460 million in tax revenue over the course of five years, according to a report that was compiled by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

According to projections provided by Statista, the value of sales of marijuana in Arkansas is expected to reach roughly $36.2 million in 2023, $47.6 million in 2024, and $67.6 million in 2025.

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws

When considering the opening of a cannabis company in Arkansas, location is a crucial consideration. If enacted, Issue 4 would let towns conduct local opt-out votes to restrict retail sales, but they could not override state law to prohibit possession or use inside their jurisdictions. We will update this section when cities and towns in Arkansas take their own stands on laws, whether they are outright bans or specific limits.

When it comes to the local decriminalization of marijuana in Arkansas, the enforcement of laws pertaining to cannabis possession has been demoted to a lower priority in Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, and Little Rock.

Medical Marijuana

On November 8, 2016, Arkansas voters cast their ballots and decided in favor of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as Issue 6. In 2017, there were changes made to the amendment by the legislature. The amendment established a statewide infrastructure for the medicinal use of marijuana and provided substantial legal protection for patients, doctors, and caregivers.

Arkansas has legalized cannabis treatment for qualifying conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS-positive status, and hepatitis C. The complete list of qualifying medical conditions is available here.

According to figures provided by the Arkansas Department of Health as of September 24, 2022, there are now 91,942 active medicinal marijuana ID cards across the state.

Medical Marijuana Cannabis Business Opportunities

Cannabis Business License Types

  • Dispensaries
  • Cultivation Facilities
  • Distributors
  • Transporters
  • Processors

Cannabis Dispensary Application Guidelines

  • An individual applicant and an applying entity are required to submit an application to the commission in order to be considered for a dispensary license. The application must be sent in on a form and in a way that the commission has set up.
  • The application period for the dispensary license will commence ten (10) days following the publication date of the legal notice by the commission, and will end ninety (90) days after the publication date.
  • If an application is chosen, the information and claims made in it will become license conditions, and failing to comply with the requirements will result in license revocation or rejection of renewal.

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Arkansas?

The costs of opening a dispensary in Arkansas include:

Type of Fee

Amount

Application Fee

$7,500.00

Licensing Fee

$15,000.00

Performance bond

$100,000.00

Application Fee 

Every dispensary licensing application must include a $7,500 cash or certified funds fee. Unsuccessful applicants will get back $3,750.00 of their initial application cost.

Licensing Fee

The chosen applicant for a dispensary license must pay the commission $15,000 in cash or certified funds within 7 days of receiving written notification of selection.

Performance bond

The successful candidate must post a $100,000 performance bond within 7 days after receiving written notification of selection. The bond must be kept until the first license renewal.

Recreational Use Legalization

On September 22, 2022, the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled that Issue 4, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was valid for the November 2022 ballot after it was initially blocked by the Board of Election Commissioners.

As previously stated, Arkansas voters decided against passing Issue 4 during the Midterm Elections.

Had Issue 4 been successful, the following would have transpired:

  • Issue 4 would make it legal for adults to own, use, and consume cannabis for personal use.
  • Starting on March 8, 2023, the existing 40 medical marijuana shops should each be granted a license to sell marijuana for recreational use at their respective locations. Also provide them with an automatic second license to sell recreational marijuana at a different site that is at least five miles away from any medical marijuana dispensary.
  • The ABC would grant 40 additional adult-use dispensary licenses by July 5, 2023. These licenses would be allocated via a lottery.

The whole text of the bill may be viewed here.

The support for legalizing marijuana is rising in Arkansas. A poll that was conducted by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College found that 53.5% said marijuana should be lawful for people over the age of 21, while 32% said it should be authorized solely for medical purposes, 10.5% said it should be illegal, and 4% said they don’t know.

We expect a number of new events to take place that will have an impact on when and how recreational legalization in Arkansas will take shape. By subscribing to our Arkansas Cannabis Mailing List (below), we will keep you up-to-date on all news and commentary pertaining to the legalization of cannabis in Arkansas that is difficult to discover elsewhere. This encompasses, but is not limited to the following:

  • What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license and open marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas?
  • What special programs will be available?
  • And more

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