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Ballot Measure Expanding Eligibility For Medical Marijuana Approved in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Patients in Arkansas would have expanded access to medical marijuana under a measure that may go before the state’s voters in November, the Arkansas Times reports.

The constitutional amendment on the ballot will be called the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024, after the title was approved this week by the state’s Attorney General, Tim Griffin.  Supporters have until July 5 to gather 90,704 signatures from registered voters to put the amendment to a statewide vote in the November 5 election.

The state’s medical marijuana program was approved in 2016 through a constitutional amendment.  Under the new measure, it would become easier for state residents to get a medical marijuana patient card and gain access to the state’s dispensaries.

Currently only doctors are qualified to sign off on medical marijuana cards but the new proposal would add nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and pharmacists to the list.

Patients would also be able to be certified via a telemedicine visit with a physician instead of the current in-person requirement.

Health care professionals would be able to certify patients based on any “debilitating” condition, not just the 18 qualifying conditions listed in the 2016 amendment.

Medical marijuana cards would expire after three years under the proposal, instead of the current one-year limit.  The $50 fee the state charges patients to obtain or renew a patient card would be eliminated.

Those with a medical marijuana card would be permitted to grow their own plants at home solely for their personal use but would not be allowed to sell the plants.

The proposal includes a trigger law that would make marijuana recreational if the federal government removes the drug from the controlled substances list or eliminates the federal crime of marijuana possession.  A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state was rejected by voters in 2022.

In 2023, the state’s 38 licensed dispensaries reported record sales of $283 million from 62,227 pounds of marijuana sold.

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