- Hammond Lewis
Arkansas Adds Two New Licenses to MMJ Industry
Arkansas marijuana patients might be familiar with dispensaries and cultivators, but this year the Natural State is introducing two new license types to the medical marijuana industry. Processors and transporters are being added as license types.
While the Arkansas Medical Marijuana program has been running for a few years, we’re just now seeing the roots take place for Arkansas Cannabis.
While many products are available, there are problems with the supply and demand of patients. Patients are asking for more consistency and better quality products, and cultivators are asking for more control and less competition.
In this Arkansas Marijuana Card Guide we’ll give you all the details on what this means for the industry and what it means for you as a patient.
Cultivating & Processing Medical Marijuana in Arkansas
Typically in Arkansas, plants will be grown by cultivators, processed as the final product, and transported to dispensaries for purchase by medical marijuana patients.
This whole process is usually done by the cultivator, a system that larger farms with more cashflow and equity prefer since they can control more of the market and extract more profit.
In Arkansas, the state usually prefers being the one to exact more control and squeeze more profit, evidenced by our restrictive cannabis laws to begin with.
But the state isn’t the only one wanting to keep their cash close.
How 8 Farms & 1 Government Run the Medical Marijuana Monopoly in Arkansas
In 2020, when shortages of cannabis were reported from medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, state officials reached out to cultivators to determine if they were unable to meet the needs of patients.
At the time there were 3 farms operational in the state.
Apparently, cultivators reassured the state that there was no need for additional farms, a consistent narrative that later evolved to the farms suing the state for trying to add additional cultivators.
The shortage has faded for now, and in the ashes of what could have been an even worse disaster. Medical marijuana is usually always available to some degree at dispensaries across the state, though specific strains are not always available.
How Arkansas Approaches Access to Cannabis as a Medicine
Certain strains may go out of stock quickly and patients who require exact strains will find it difficult to stick to one phenotype, but overall, the program is running, even if it is a little buggy.
For whatever reason, Arkansas decided that 8 cultivation licenses would meet the demands of Arkansas medical marijuana patients, as opposed to Oklahoma needing almost 6,000 licenses, Missouri needing 61 licenses, or Missouri, where you’ll find instead of a cap on licenses, there’s actually a minimum threshold that legally requires a cultivation facility for every group of 100,000 people.
Arkansas opted for a tightly controlled, highly taxed, small group of 8 farms that are allowed to produce cannabis medicine in the state.
Because of this, cultivators have been making decisions that Arkansans might prefer were made by someone else, like how much product can cost, which dispensaries can get better products, and what strains will even be available in the state.
Concern for Arkansas Medical Marijuana Prices and Availability
Because Arkansas has such an obvious monopoly on the entire flow of cannabis products and production, cultivation facilities often make decisions that will impact their bottom line, regardless of how it impacts dispensaries or patients.
We reached out to a local dispensary who preferred to remain anonymous, and had some interesting thoughts about their relationship with cultivators.
Marijuana Talk: Dispensaries vs. Cultivators
“So, do you order products from cultivation facilities, or do they send them to you?”
Dispensary: “Farms typically provide us with inventory based on their preference and price, which doesn’t always benefit us. Often we can’t request specific strains, we kind of get what we get.”
“Doesn’t that make it difficult to know what you’ll be able to charge?”
Dispensary: “Sometimes the prices are even set before we get the product, like certain concentrates that are over 80% THC… they charge us more for those, while the same product with 79% will be cheaper.”
“What about flower, or edibles?”
Dispensary: “Flower is hard to get consistent strains of because all the dispensaries here get their product from the same farms. The farms decide who gets what and when, not us or the patients. So when a patient finds a strain that really works for them, there’s no way for us to guarantee it’ll be available the next time.”
“Do farms ever deny you flower or specific strains?”
Dispensary: “Oh yeah. In fact, there’s one brand that will only sell us trim, we can’t really sell it like regular flower because the buds just aren’t as big or pretty like they give other dispensaries. We get it prepackaged and sell it in 7 (gram) jars, but many patients choose 3.5 (gram) jars because of the price.”
“Why even buy the brand?”
Dispensary: “Well that’s a tough one, because it’s a good brand. It’s top shelf flower, they just want better looking buds going to specific dispensaries and that kind of leaves us hanging.”
Arkansas Adds Processing & Transporting Licenses
The fears of cannabis products resting solely in the hands of cultivators are shared by patients and dispensaries both.
While farms should be producing enough medicine to cover the state, they obviously shouldn’t be the same entity that determines the price.
But legislators haven’t exactly been the right ones for that either, traditionally opting to increase and extend taxes on patients’ medicine.
While the waters are still rumbling with waves of mafia-style monopoly, the state has added two new licenses to the medical marijuana industry.
The Two New Marijuana License Types
Processing licenses were created to allow independent processing of cannabis products, separate from farms. While processors can’t grow cannabis, they can use cannabis from cultivators to make edibles, concentrates, and derivative products.
Currently, cultivators are already processing their own cannabis and it’s not immediately clear how processors will fit into the conversation.
There’s no requirement for farms to work with processors, and there’s no clear standards for how a relationship between a cultivation facility and processor would work or even start.
Transporting Licenses were created to allow independent companies to facilitate the transportation of medical marijuana products from cultivators to dispensaries or processors.
This license type makes more sense, as the security requirements for transporting cannabis in Arkansas can be very cost prohibitive.
Vehicles with extra security measures and full-time staff are needed just to move products from one place to another, and while cultivation facilities have been going about this just fine on their own, security companies can now enter the marijuana industry in Arkansas.
The Future of Arkansas Cannabis
While some of the backdoor business in Arkansas cannabis is a little shaky, medicine is still available in the state and it’s getting better.
If cultivators start using independent processors we might get out of this rut of poor trimming, unacceptable leafage, and low-quality concentrates.
Independent processors would likely take more care in processing their cannabis, which would be a huge step in the right direction for Arkansas.
New edibles, topicals, concentrates, and fewer leaves on buds could all come to Arkansas if cultivators seize the opportunity to work with the new licenses.
Everyone can agree that better products are needed in Arkansas, and turning over the costly processing system that cultivators are currently mishandling might turn a new leaf for farms with less than desirable reputations for bad trimming.
Right now, products are on the shelves, and there’s both good and preferable products.
A Brighter Future for Arkansas Marijuana Patients
Top shelf cannabis products with excellent trimming, strong terpene profiles, and good THC levels are a little harder to find but they are available, and you can almost always find a good jar of buds at any dispensary in Arkansas.
We all want to see the Arkansas cannabis industry grow and evolve, and by adding these two license types the state may very well want the same thing eventually.
2022 is just around the corner, where activists and lawmakers both will be strapping in to prepare a year focused on medical cannabis, legalization, and access to better medicine for medical marijuana patients.
While there are ups and downs in any new industry, the bumps in the road for the medical marijuana industry can be overcome. And Arkansas has legalized medical marijuana, afterall.
Qualifying patients can walk into any dispensary in the state and access their medicine without any legal worry whatsoever, purchase their medicine in a variety of products, and consume 2.5 ounces every two weeks. That’s a huge step in the right direction for Arkansans, who finally won the battle for medical marijuana.
Become an Arkansas Marijuana Patient
Qualifying Arkansas patients can schedule an appointment to meet with one of our certified physicians and get approved for medical marijuana treatment.
We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way, feel free to give us a call at 844-249-8714, and we can answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Arkansas.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at 844-249-8714, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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