Arkansas Medical Marijuana Surges: $1 Billion in Sales Over Five Years

Home » Arkansas Medical Marijuana Surges: $1 Billion in Sales Over Five Years
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

May 15, 2024

arkansas medical marijuana surges: $1 billion in sales over five years

Since the introduction of medical cannabis in Arkansas in 2019, the industry has seen significant growth. Over three dozen dispensaries have opened, with more than 102,000 residents obtaining patient cards and revenue is surpassing $1.1 billion.

Writing for the Arkansas Advocate, Mary Hennigan notes that initial concerns expressed in 2016 have not materialized. Despite these concerns, the cannabis industry has flourished, with sales figures indicating a thriving market.

According to the latest report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, sales from the state’s 38 dispensaries reached nearly $45 million in February and March, totaling $68 million for the year. While this year’s sales are slightly down compared to the same period in 2023, there has been an increase in the volume of products sold, indicating competitive pricing benefiting patients.

Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration, attributes the industry’s growth to a steady trajectory since its launch in mid-2019. Despite challenges such as lawsuits and legislative amendments, the industry has survived and thrived, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Record-breaking sales have been recorded each year since 2019, reflecting the sustained growth of the cannabis market in Arkansas. Additionally, the state has collected over $127 million in tax revenue, with a portion directed toward alleviating student food insecurity.

Although Arkansas permits 40 dispensaries, ongoing litigation has prevented the issuance of two licenses. Furthermore, the state recently revoked its first dispensary license due to repeated violations, including the sale of expired products, exemplifying the regulatory oversight in place.

Patients Usage

Hardin notes that patient card use in Arkansas has surpassed expectations. In 2019, there were 11,000 cardholders, which quickly rose to 43,000 within a year. Currently, there are over 102,000 cardholders, and there is no sign of slowing down.

Hardin finds the figures promising, especially the significant sales spike on 4/20. As of June 2023, PTSD and intractable pain are the most common underlying conditions for cardholders.

Women make up the majority of cardholders, with individuals aged 25–44 holding the most cards. Additionally, white individuals hold the majority of cards.

The Cannabis World

In Arkansas, the cannabis industry has been a learning experience for many. Bill Paschall, president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, started with little knowledge but now advises daily on rules. Over five years, he’s met various industry folks, including legislators, to keep them updated.

Paschall hears from locals about benefits of cannabis like better sleep and less anxiety. He’s reassured that regulation in Arkansas ensures safe products.

David Berman manages the Natural Relief Dispensary in Sherwood despite having little prior experience. His team helps patients find suitable products, and the dispensary sells well.

arkansas medical marijuana surges: $1 billion in sales over five years

Seeking Change

Arkansas residents are pushing for easier access to medical marijuana through a proposed ballot measure called The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative. Volunteers are gathering signatures to meet the July deadline, aiming for 90,704 signatures. The initiative introduces several changes, such as allowing patients and caregivers over 21 to grow a limited number of marijuana plants and expanding the types of healthcare professionals who can certify patients for medical marijuana.

Additionally, the initiative proposes to streamline the process of qualifying patients, by allowing online assessments and eliminating card application fees. Medical cards would also last three years instead of one, reflecting the long-term needs of many patients.

If approved, the initiative is expected to stimulate growth in the cannabis industry, benefiting low-income individuals and those in rural areas. Proponents hope it will also increase access among minority populations, addressing current disparities.

Even if the measure doesn’t make it to the ballot, growth in the cannabis industry is anticipated, albeit slower.

What does our team of My MMJ Doctor think about it?

Our My MMJ Doctor Team sees the excellent response to medical cannabis in Arkansas as proof that it works well for healthcare. The industry in Arkansas is growing rapidly, with over 102,000 people getting patient cards and making over $1.1 billion in revenue. This shows that more people are accepting cannabis as a natural treatment choice. Even though some people weren’t initially sure, the cannabis industry is doing well and helping patients. We support the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative because they make it easier for people to get medical cannabis if they need it. This makes us even more committed to supporting medical cannabis in Arkansas and other places.

Take Away

Since medical cannabis was introduced in Arkansas in 2019, the industry has grown significantly. With over 102,000 residents holding patient cards and revenue exceeding $1.1 billion, the market is thriving. Despite initial worries, the industry has overcome challenges and flourished during the pandemic.
Each year since 2019 has seen record-breaking sales, and the state has collected over $127 million in tax revenue. However, there are still hurdles, like ongoing litigation preventing the issuance of all dispensary licenses.

Demographically, women, individuals aged 25–44, and white individuals comprise the majority of cardholders. The industry has been a learning curve for many, but with promising initiatives like The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative, which aims to make access easier, the future looks bright for Arkansas’s cannabis industry.

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