The Arkansas medical marijuana program took a step forward Friday as state agencies began distributing applications for patient cards and accepting paperwork required to run dispensaries and cultivation facilities.
The state Department of Health said it is now taking applications for medical marijuana registry cards. To apply for a card, a patient is required to obtain a doctor’s certification that the patient has one of 18 qualifying conditions.
“Cards will be issued to qualifying patients and caregivers about 30 days before medical marijuana is available for legal purchase in the state, which is likely to be early next year,” according to a statement from the department.
In addition to the doctor’s certification, the application requires a $50 annual fee and a copy of a valid Arkansas driver’s license or other official Arkansas-issued identification.
The Department of Health reiterated that “possession of marijuana is still illegal in the state unless purchased in licensed dispensaries by cardholders” and “there are no licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas.”
Meanwhile, the state Medical Marijuana Commission began taking applications to run five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries.
While there are no geographic requirements for the marijuana farms, the storefronts must be evenly distributed across eight zones in the state.
Jake Bleed, a spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said no one submitted an application Friday to open a medical marijuana business.
However, the Medical Marijuana Commission, which is housed in the department, did make some changes to the application process.
An amended application, released Friday, addressed changes in how the Arkansas Economic Development Commission ranks parts of Arkansas in terms of business need.
The marijuana commission had decided to grant bonus points to