Arkansas had a slow start rolling out its medical marijuana industry when it began in 2016. Two years after that, Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana and the business skyrocketed all over the state.
Oklahoma currently has over 2,200 active dispensaries, while Arkansas has only 22. Oklahoma also has a much longer list of medical ailments that allows for patients to apply for a card.
"Sales have exceeded all of our projections and over the last two months have increased consistently," Scott Hardin of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said last week when they were at $92 million in overall sales and anticipated reaching $100 million next week.
Hardin released the latest sales figures Monday, putting the state’s new overall medical marijuana sales at $99.16 million.
While patients can apply for a temporary card in Oklahoma that allows them to utilize the state’s selection there at roughly half the price, Hardin said last week that if patients are utilizing the temporary cards it is having little effect on sales in Arkansas.
Oklahoma can’t divulge what state their temporary licenses originate, but according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority there are 4,539 active temporary licenses. The Oklahoma MMA noted privacy laws keep them from saying what state the licenses originate.
There are now more than 60,000 patients in Arkansas with medical marijuana cards. Hardin says three of the four locations in Northwest Arkansas have surpassed 1,000 pounds in sales in less than a year, while the new Fort Smith location has sold more than 550 pounds since opening only six months ago.
"If there are Arkansans utilizing temporary cards in another state, it is not something reflected in the numbers as the dispensaries located closest to the Oklahoma border are among those with the state’s strongest sales," Hardin added.
Jerret Demory, a dispensary owner in Oklahoma, says that before the Fort Smith location opened he would see at least eight to 10 temporary licenses from Arkansas in a day, but when the Fort Smith location opened those numbers dropped to no more than one or two a week.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday approved the two last cultivation licenses to River Valley Relief Cultivation in Fort Smith and New Day Cultivation in Hot Springs. State voters approved the commission to maintain eight cultivation licenses, but only three have been operational.
Pricing has been in issue in Arkansas with the low number of cultivation facilities. Prices in Oklahoma, for example, are about half that of prices in Fort Smith.