A recent surge in sales brought Arkansas’ nearly-year-old medical marijuana industry over the $50 million threshold.
The milestone comes after what local television station KATV described Monday as a “significant increase in sales last week.” Since the state’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors last year, patients have spent $50.7 million on 7,932 pounds worth of medical marijuana, according to the outlet.
There are currently 20 dispensaries open for business in the state, the outlet said, with another 13 that have received licenses but have not opened. It may be some time before any more licenses are doled out, too. Late last month, an Arkansas judge barred the state’s medical marijuana commission from issuing any more licenses as part of a temporary restraining order stemming from a lawsuit against the commission.
Medicanna, a company based in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, sued the medical marijuana commission, saying it was passed over for a dispensary license that was instead issued to a different company in Pine Bluff that actually received a lower application score.
Arkansas voters approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, but the program’s rollout was beset by a number of delays. State officials announced last year that it had finally awarded 32 licenses for dispensaries. Those dispensaries were required to pay a $15,000 licensing fee, as well as a $100,000 performance bond.
Medical marijuana sales began last May, but according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “nearly half of Arkansas’ 32 dispensaries remain inoperable a year after the permits were issued.”
The medical marijuana program has faced resistance from lawmakers. Last year, a month before sales began, legislators passed a bill that barred medical cannabis companies from advertising to audiences made up of more than 30 percent children, and from placing ads within 1,000 feet of schools or daycares. The measure also prohibited ads from appearing on public transit, and imposed stiff restrictions on TV, radio, print media, and online advertising.
Arkansas is one of more than 30 states to permit patients to treat qualifying medical conditions with medical marijuana.