APPROVED: Attorney General Tim Griffin signed off on the medical marijuana amendment.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has approved the ballot title for a constitutional amendment that would expand the state medical marijuana program, clearing the way for organizers to gather the signatures needed to put the measure on the November ballot.

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Arkansans for Patient Access, the coalition of patient advocates and industry leaders behind the measure, will need 90,704 verified signatures by July 5 to put the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024 to a vote of the people.

Bill Paschall, executive director of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said the group hopes to have canvassers trained and circulating petitions within two weeks.

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In an opinion issued yesterday, Griffin approved the measure, while making some grammatical changes to it and warning the sponsors about the measure’s length and complexity.

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 that created a medical marijuana program. The new proposal would expand that program, making it easier for Arkansans to get a medical marijuana patient card and gain access to the state’s 38 dispensaries. 

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The measure would do the following:

  • Allow pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients for the program in addition to medical doctors.

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  • Allow health care professionals to certify patients based on any “debilitating” condition, not just the 18 qualifying conditions in the 2016 amendment

  • Eliminate the $50 fee the state charges patients to obtain or renew a patient card

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  • Extend the life of patient cards from one year to three years

  • Allow patients to grow up to seven mature plants and seven immature plants and allow the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to create regulations

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  • Prevent any constitutional amendment from being amended or repealed unless by the people

  • Allow the sale of pre-rolled marijuana by eliminating the state prohibition on dispensaries’ sale of paraphernalia requiring combustion

“We are confident that Arkansans will respond positively and ultimately vote for the proposed amendment because it will reduce barriers to obtaining a medical marijuana card, eliminate the annual renewal hassle, and give patients more product choices,” Paschall said.

Arkansas voters approved the 2016 medical marijuana amendment by a 53% vote. The first dispensary opened in 2019, and cumulative sales surpassed $1 billion last year.

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In 2022, the state cannabis industry pushed an amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, but the measure failed, with 56% of voters rejecting it.

Local marijuana advocates Melissa Fults and David Couch opposed the recreational measure in 2022 but have said they support this year’s effort to expand the medical marijuana program.