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Grown: How to apply for a medical marijuana card in Arkansas

by Nyssa Kruse | September 21, 2021 at 9:38 a.m.
Medical marijuana is displayed in a glass case for customers at Green Springs Medical Dispensary in Hot Springs on March 26, 2020. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go here.

Arkansas patients with certain health conditions are eligible for medical marijuana cards, but the process to get one involves several steps. Here are the basics.

Physician certification

Alex Hooper, personal care services branch manager with the Arkansas Department of Health, said the first step toward obtaining a medical marijuana card is visiting a doctor able to certify patients for medical marijuana.

Doctors who hold a valid, unrestricted, and existing license to practice in Arkansas and who have been issued a current and active registration from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances are allowed to certify patients for medical marijuana, according to Danyelle McNeill, a spokeswoman with the health department.

Patients can be considered for medical marijuana eligibility if they have at least one of eighteen conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for HIV or AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

Patients can also petition for a condition to be added to the approved list, but Hooper said there have been no successful petitions so far.

There is no minimum age to be eligible for medical marijuana use, but minors need parental assistance to receive a certification, Hooper said.

Applying to Department of Health

If a doctor certifies a patient for medical marijuana use, the individual must then send an application to the Department of Health to receive a registry card.

Hooper said he recommends applying online but applications can also be sent by mail to Arkansas Department of Health, 4815 West Markham St., Slot 50, Little Rock, AR, 72205.

In addition to the application form, an individual will need to send:

  • The completed Physician Written Certification
  • Photocopy of your Arkansas issued driver's license or state ID
  • A nonrefundable $50 application fee

Hooper said the Department of Health only denies applications for administrative reasons, such as missing a document or paperwork being filled out incorrectly.

“We don't check the certification’s validity, as it were,” Hooper said. “We leave that to the physicians.”

Patients approved for a medical marijuana card can use it at any licensed dispensary in the state.

Renewal

Physicians decide how long a patient’s certification will last, up to one year, Hooper said.

If an individual would like to renew their medical marijuana card, the Department of Health recommends starting the process at least 30 days before their card expires.

Patients will need to revisit their doctor to receive a new certification, and then will re-submit the same documents as in their initial application.

The renewal can take up to 14 days according to the Department of Health’s website.

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