Is Medical-Only Weed Legal in Arkansas?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 22, 2021
Arkansas Medical Cannabis Legality
Arkansas Medical Cannabis Legality

Currently, it is only legal to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis in Arkansas if you’ve been authorized by the state to do so for medical reasons. Even, if you live in places such as Little Rock or Hot Springs.  Thus, requiring that you have one of the listed qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.  While The Natural state attempted to legalize recreational weed in 2020, it failed to pass.


History of Weed Laws

On November 8, 2016, 53% of voters approved the state’s first medical marijuana program.  The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment was signed into law shortly after. This allowed patients with medical conditions listed under the state’s qualifying conditions to receive a medical card to purchase cannabis.  Before that, back in 2006, Eureka Springs voters passed a law that would reduce the penalty of marijuana use.  The next year, Fayetteville did the same.


Right now, the medical marijuana program in Arkansas is managed by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). They are tasked with overseeing the issuing of medical marijuana cards to patients and caregivers.  The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division manages dispensaries and cultivation licenses, while the state’s Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (AMMC) ties the operations of these two departments together to ensure safety, enforcement, and licensing regulation.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Arkansas?

It is only legal for a medical marijuana patient to purchase cannabis products from a dispensary that has been licensed by the state to sell marijuana products.  Dispensaries can be found throughout the state and require that the patient show their medical marijuana card at the time of purchase to verify their authorization to make purchases.  A caregiver is allowed to purchase on behalf of the patient as long as they have their state-issued caregiver registry card available.  Numerous dispensaries throughout the state deliver to patients’ homes and offer curbside pickup.


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

Public consumption of marijuana is strictly prohibited in Arkansas, which means that medical patients can only legally consume cannabis on private property, including their own homes. 


Possession Laws

A medical marijuana patient can legally buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for every 14-day period.  Patients who are using cannabis strictly for pain must adhere to stricter possession limits, but physicians and patients can petition for higher limits if they deem it necessary.  Recreational possession remains illegal and can lead to criminal charges.  First-offense possession is a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine. 


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

The state strictly prohibits the cultivation of cannabis, whether you are a patient, a caregiver, or a recreational user.  Being caught growing your own cannabis can lead to serious penalties and may be seen as drug-trafficking, which means that associated criminal penalties apply.  The charges depend on the amount being grown at one time.  Those who have more than 14 grams may be convicted of a felony and possessing more than 4 ounces of marijuana purchased outside of a dispensary or grown at home comes with a mandatory 3-year sentence in jail and $10,000 fine.


Medical Marijuana

AR has a medical marijuana program that anyone can apply to in order to qualify for medical marijuana.  Once an application is approved, the patient will receive a medical card from the state that is authorized at any state-licensed dispensary.  The patient may also designate a caregiver to purchase cannabis on their behalf, which also requires approval from the state through a similar application process.


Qualifying Conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Intractable pain, defined as pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six months
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe arthritis
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Severe nausea
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the AD


Patients who have another debilitating condition not on this list who wish to be approved can petition the state.


Patient Qualifications:

For a patient to qualify for medical marijuana, they must have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions or have another condition that their physician deems suitable for marijuana treatment, of which they can petition to the ADH in an effort to qualify.  The physician must provide a certification showing that the patient has one of these conditions and could benefit from marijuana.  Patients must be at least 18, but minors may qualify after a parent or legal guardian submits an application and certification from their physician.  They must also show proof of registry.  Arkansas prohibits medical marijuana authorization to United States Military members and members of the National Guard.


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Arkansas

To register for medical marijuana, a patient can fill out the application provided on the ADH website. From there, submit it along with a doctor’s certification and proof of residency.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A caregiver in Arkansas must be at least 21 years of age, must have a clean criminal record, and must be caring for a patient who is either a minor or is disabled. 


Registering as a Caregiver

Registering as a caregiver requires filling out an application to the state and paying a small fee for a criminal background check that will be conducted.  The application is filed through the Department of Health’s website.


Reciprocity Laws

Arkansas is a state that permits out-of-state residents visiting Arkansas to purchase cannabis from a state-authorized dispensary.  The visitor is required to have their medical verification on them at the time of purchase or else they will not be able to buy cannabis.



The ADH requires all of the cannabis products sold to medical patients in dispensaries to have been properly tested by a third-party laboratory, where the cannabis is analyzed for its cannabinoid profile along with the presence of impurities, solvents, and contaminants, in order to ensure safety.


General Arkansas CBD and Hemp Rules

After the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and finalized in order to legalize hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) it also allowed for its cultivation and distribution as an agricultural product.  This was when Arkansas legislature also passed HB 1518. It decriminalized hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD).  As a result, hemp-derived CBD is regulated within the state’s medical marijuana program.