Some 220 Arkansas patients have already received medical marijuana registry identification cards, less than a month since state Department of Health (ADH) officials began accepting applications to allow citizens to obtain pot by prescription for medical purposes.
Still, it could still be several months before patients can gain access to medical cannabis with the likelihood that cultivation and dispensary facilities to grow and sell will not be operational until early 2018 or later.
ADH began accepting applications for medical marijuana registry identification cards on June 30. As of July 21, ADH spokeswoman Karen White told Talk Business & Politics, there have been 222 completed and approved applications since state health officials began receiving those submissions at the beginning of July. That tally is updated by ADH every Friday, White said.
Storm Nolan, spokesman for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA), said he is not disappointed with the number of patient ID applicants because the deadline is still nearly two months away.
“There won’t be any medical cannabis available probably until early next year,” Nolan said. “I don’t think people are in a rush, but we are trying our best as an association to get the word out to patients to get their applications in now so when the time comes, there won’t be a flood to (ADH) and there won’t be big delays.”
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has also published the requirements for submitting bids for up to five operators to grow and cultivate medical marijuana under the constitutional amendment that was approved by voters in the November 2016 election. The commission also began accepting those applications on June 30 with the final deadline being Sept. 18. State policymakers have said they expect the first sale of medical marijuana in Arkansas to take place in early 2018.