At a Glance

  • Arkansas voted 53% for medical marijuana on Issue 6
  • 17 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
  • Creation of the Medical Marijuana Commission
  • Lots of tax revenue to schools, including the General Fund, and vocational and technical schools

We didn’t win Arizona this year (which may have been due to the bad Colorado press unfairly used by Arizona’s anti-cannabis group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy) but we did win Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota with legalized medical cannabis elections. Arkansas’ Issue 7 went on the November 8 ballot in that state along with seven others across the nation in places like Nevada, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and Florida. This election was an important, status-quo changing vote for our country, in more ways than one. Let’s take a quick look at what Arkansas’ laws were, are now, and may be in the future.

Arkansas’ Different but Similar Cannabis Issues

The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, known as Issue 7, was actually removed from the ballot by the law case Benca v. Martin just a few weeks before the election – the case claimed that many of the signatures on the statue were invalid. While the issue still appeared on the ballot, results and votes were not counted. Voting yes on Issue 6 would have made medical marijuana legal for 56 qualifying medical conditions and made the Arkansas Department of Health responsible for implementing the program and running it completely. Evidently they didn’t want to do that, because instead of voting on Issue 7, the state voted yes on Issue 6, a similar bill that legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas for a vastly reduced 17 qualifying conditions, created the Medical Marijuana Commission to implement and regulate the program, and allocated tax revenue to schools, including through technical institutes, vocational schools, workforce training, and the General Fund.

The Arkansas Department of Health has 120 days from November 9, 2016 to get its regulations and rules in order to take applications and renewals for medical cannabis registries; label and test medical marijuana for patients; assign caregivers; begin manufacturing, processing, packaging, and dispensing medical cannabis to patients; suspending or terminating licenses for those who violate the regulations; dispensary and cultivation facilities; disposal procedures; and oversight, record keeping, and security requirements for all new businesses and departments. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And it is, you can be sure of that! Luckily, Arkansas has twenty-five other states and various people and companies eager to help them establish their budding medical marijuana industry. Issue 6 passed with 53.08% of the vote.

What Does Legal Medical Marijuana Mean for Arkansas?

Back in 2013, Business Insider named Arkansas as one of the most conservative states in the United States; it tied at number 9 with Nebraska, and was a big Tea Party state (at the time of the article, 45.3% of the state was conservative). Organizations like Arkansans for Compassionate Care poured their hearts, souls, and money into the campaign for Issue 7, which must have gained enough support to pass the slightly more conservative Issue 6 on November’s ballot. A vote on the same issue barely failed in 2012. The new Arkansas medical marijuana laws will allow up to 40 medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities to be created and apply the tax revenue from these organizations to administrative costs, school funding, and technical or vocational education and training.

Qualifying Arkansas Medical Cannabis Conditions

The qualifying medical cannabis conditions that doctors use for cannabis prescriptions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS positive status, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, or Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Arkansas has legalized medical cannabis treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition if it causes one or more of the following symptoms in the patient: cachexia or wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain (that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six month), severe nausea, seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy), severe and persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis), and any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Arkansas Department of Health. Arkansas is on the right track, and here’s hoping that the positive medical marijuana vote made more people happier and healthier than the presidential vote did across the nation.