LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas medical marijuana patients will soon be able to buy the product in Oklahoma.
The Arkansas Department of Health announced Wednesday it anticipates issuing registry ID cards within the next 30 days, pending next week’s Medical Marijuana Commission (MMC) meeting where commissioners plan to award the state’s 32 dispensary licenses.
“With the recent news in Oklahoma, the calls have spiked today,” said Connie Melton, the department’s Health Systems Licensing and Certification branch chief.
On New Year’s Day, a medical marijuana dispensary, Pharm 788, opened in Roland, 10 minutes from the Arkansas border. Oklahoma accepts out-of-state patients with a valid ID card.
The more than 6,700 patients approved in Arkansas have only received letters. The health department planned to print the cards one month prior to the product’s availability at dispensaries.
“We didn’t want the patients to have their cards expire and have to pay again to renew a card when they hadn’t even had an opportunity to purchase any medical marijuana,” said Melton.
The renewal fee is $50.
Scott Hardin, the MMC spokesperson, said the health department can “issue cards at the time they find is best.” Hardin pointed out if the product is obtained in Oklahoma, it would still remain illegal in Arkansas. David Couch, an attorney and the author of the state’s medical marijuana amendment, argues it would be legal.
Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016. The state’s five growers have told the MMC they will be ready by spring at the earliest, while the MMC plans to award the licenses to sell the product at its next meeting Jan. 9.
Here is a breakdown of how Arkansas and Oklahoma’s medical marijuana programs compare:
Medical Marijuana in AR vs OK
Legalized in 2016
5 licenses to grow
32 licenses to sell
6,700+ patients approved
Legalized in 2018
1,300+ approved to grow (+ 340 processors)
800+ approved to sell
33,000 patients approved #arpx #arnews— Jessi Turnure (@JessiTurnure) January 2, 2019
Once the health department issues the ID cards, approved patients will be able to apply for a temporary medical marijuana license in Oklahoma that allows them to buy products there within 30 days.
Arkansas will also issue temporary cards to out-of-state patients when medical marijuana becomes available.
According to the health department’s fiscal year 2018 report, many of the approved patients have more than one of the 18 qualifying conditions. The most prevalent conditions are intractable pain, severe arthritis and PTSD.
The report states most patients are white between the ages of 45 and 64.