All 32 businesses that an Arkansas panel approved to sell medical marijuana in the state have been formally awarded their licenses, though they won’t be open until the beginning of summer.
That leaves patients and law enforcement agencies in a tough spot.
“The upsetting part is they passed out the cards for a handful of people to go to Oklahoma. The rest of the patients are left with no options,” Executive Director of the Drug Policy Education Group, Melissa Fults, said.
Questions remain over whether medical marijuana patients can legally use cannabis in Arkansas that was purchased from another state.
The Health Department said a high number of applicants applied in months past, and it was holding the cards until dispensaries were closer to being open.
“You can hold it until you’re ready to purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas…if a person with a card travels, they might need that card for their medical marijuana needs in another state. That state’s requirements would apply,” ADH Branch Chief of Health Systems Licensing and Certification, Connie Melton, said.
Patients with a valid medical marijuana ID cards can apply for a temporary card in Oklahoma.
But neighboring agencies, like Fort Smith Police, said officers have not yet been trained on medical marijuana issues — not until there is legislative clarification on the regulatory side.
“People have a false sense of security that, oh I have this card so I can go to Oklahoma I can buy my medicine, and I can bring it back home and I’m safe. They’re not,” Fults said.
Fults said this confusion could have been avoided if medical marijuana was available in the natural state a little sooner.
Now, it’s again a waiting game.
“That 3 months is huge. We’ve felt like the state has let us down,” Fults said.
We reached out to the Arkansas State Police about what they are doing about people crossing state lines with medical marijuana, but they forwarded us to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The DEA says it’s up to local authorities to prosecute cases.