In July of 2016, the Arkansas United for Medical Marijuana succeeded in getting lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana. Shortly thereafter, legislators passed Issue 6, which decriminalized the sale of marijuana in Arkansas. Even so, the first dispensary did not officially open until May of this year, and since then, just eight others have opened their doors. The low number of dispensaries may be due to the state’s strict operating and licensing laws.

According to American Cannabis Company, aspiring dispensary owners may find it difficult to obtain the licensing they need to operate legally. For starters, counties and municipalities may reserve the right to ban or prohibit the operation of a marijuana business within town limits. If a town will allow a dispensary, state law requires business owners to have lived in Arkansas for at least seven years. They must also be able to provide proof of at least $100,000 in liquid assets or present a $200,000 surety bond.

If a person meets the aforementioned requirements, he or she must then pay an application fee of $7,500. The state will refund only half. Non-cultivating dispensaries must then pay an additional $2,500 license fee, while the fee for cultivating dispensaries is $25,000.

Once a dispensary opens, it must adhere to strict labeling and recordkeeping requirements. According to the Arkansas State Board of Health, both cultivation facilities and dispensaries must label a batch with the following information:

  • The registration number of the dispensary or facility
  • The unique identification number of the harvest or process lot
  • The name and accreditation number of the lab that took the samples and of the lab that ran the tests
  • The UINs of the test batch or sample
  • The date the lab tested the samples
  • A disclaimer, in bold, 12-point font, “PRODUCT NOT TESTED”

As for storing the products, dispensaries and cultivation facilities must store them in such a way that no person would be able to tamper with or transfer them prior to the facility reporting the test results. Only once a product passes testing may a business release it for sale or transfer.