Cultivators and Dispensaries Partner to Fight Arkansas Telehealth
Patients with qualifying conditions can receive a medical marijuana card in Arkansas, and for now, the state requires you to do so in person, unless you’re renewing your card.
This directly conflicts with Arkansas legislation that was passed in July of 2021, permitting the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana certifications and renewals.
Today, as of March 2022, the Arkansas Department of Health continues to restrict telemedicine as a legitimate means for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana certifications, though the State recently allowed telehealth to be used for medical marijuana card renewals.
A dispensary and cannabis cultivator have partnered to challenge the Department of Health’s failure to implement the telehealth legislation, citing that the DOH is causing irreparable harm to potential clients in the cannabis industry.
The Telemedicine Act for Cannabis in Arkansas
COVID-19 Exemption for Telemedicine
Arkansas allowed the use of telemedicine for medical marijuana registrations and renewals both as the COVID-19 pandemic began taking over the Natural State.
Initially planned to be a temporary exemption, the State quickly moved to pass Act 1112 that would make telemedicine procedures permanently available for Arkansas residents.
After the expiration of the original exemption, the Arkansas Department of Health appears to have chosen to no longer accept telehealth certifications.
This caused significant confusion about whether telemedicine was allowed. Patients were forced to seek in-person appointments regardless of the increased rate of COVID-19 at the time and in apparent opposition to legislation that legally permitted telehealth certifications.
Act 1112 Passes, Making Telehealth Cannabis Certifications Legal
After the passage of SB703, now Act 1112, it seems there was not only a lack of implementation from the Department of Health but an apparent unwillingness to implement any procedures that would accept telehealth for initial medical cannabis certifications.
After many independent phone calls and inquiries from a range of medical cannabis patients and patient registration companies, the Arkansas DOH went from releasing no information to replying to inquiries with references to the legal department. They fnally confirmed that for whatever reason, they would not be complying with Act 1112 and that the telemedicine act had expired on the Department’s MMJ section of their website.
With revised pages on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website updated to omit previous clauses on telehealth, it’s difficult to find any information on telehealth at all, aside from a note on the DOH MMJ application that states:
“Rev 12/2021 *Persuant to Act 112 of 2021, physician written re-certification assessment may be done via telehealth”
Noting the spelling error, this is likely in reference to Act 1112 that permits telemedicine for medical marijuana certifications. It does not explicitly permit only re-certifications, but the Arkansas DOH has conjured that up.
Lawsuit Filed Against Arkansas Department of Health Over Cannabis Telemedicine
Good Day Farm & Capital City Medicinals Challenge AR Department of Health
In an 11-page lawsuit filed on February 11th aimed at the Arkansas Department of Health, Good Day Farm Arkansas LLC and Capital City Medicinals LLC challenge Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce to invalidate the department’s rules on telemedicine, claiming they are contradictory to Arkansas law.
Act 1112 went into effect July 28th, 2021, after the senate approved the bill 23-9 in April.
The lawsuit claims that the Department of Health’s failure to implement Act 1112 is causing “irreparable harm” to potential clients of Good Day Farm and Capital City Medicinals, whose revenue is directly tied to the number of patients in the state.
Arkansas Telehealth Is Approved for Renewals, Hopefully Available for Initial Certifications Soon
Why the Department of Health’s chose to ignore State law could be anyone’s best guess.
Once the lawsuit is underway,investigations can begin on how the department did or didn’t follow through with State law. Then, we’ll likely have a better picture of how Arkansas will move forward with telehealth certifications for initial patient registrations.
It’s unclear why the Department of Health hasn’t implemented processes allowing telehealth procedures to go on in Arkansas, and this lawsuit will hopefully answer our questions.
For now, we’re keeping a close eye on telehealth in Arkansas, and as of right now, telehealth renewals are approved by the Arkansas Department of Health for medical marijuana patients.
Become an Arkansas Marijuana Patient
Arkansas offers medical marijuana for patients who received a medical marijuana card. While there are current legal proceedings challenging the Department of Health’s lack of telehealth procedures, Arkansas patients can renew their medical marijuana cards through telehealth medicine today.
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!
Check out Arkansas Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Arkansas.