BY TAFI MUKUNYADZI
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The application period for people seeking to grow, distribute or use medical marijuana in Arkansas is officially open.
State officials opened the application period Friday and it runs until Sept. 18.
Voters last November made Arkansas the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, clearing the way for people with certain medical conditions to use the drug. There are 18 qualifying conditions that allow people to be eligible for medical marijuana cards, including intractable pain, cancer, severe nausea, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The state Department of Health expects 20,000 to 40,000 people to apply to use the drug. Arkansas Department of Health spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said applications are starting to trickle in.
As of just about 2 p.m. Friday, the department had received 23 online applications and one paper application for the medical marijuana cards, she said.
The cards cost $50 and must be renewed yearly. All applicants must have a driver’s license or state-issued ID card to obtain a medical marijuana card, and those younger than 18 need a parent or guardian’s consent to apply.
The health department said the cards will be issued about 30 days before medical marijuana is available for legal purchase in the state.
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division will award five cultivation licenses and 32 dispensary licenses.
Several people throughout the state are hoping to get into the medical marijuana business, including Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association founder Storm Nolan and AR-Canna president and CEO Brian Faught.
Faught hopes to build several greenhouses on 5 acres of land in Fayetteville.
Nolan, who wants to establish a cultivation facility in Fort Smith, told The Associated Press that the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association has seen an increase in people reaching out about the process to obtain permits and licenses as the start of the application period approaches. He added that people seem satisfied with the application process, which requires a written certification form from a physician.
“I have not heard a complaint,” Nolan said.
He said the association’s goal now is to educate patients and physicians. It plans to host a symposium in July on how to navigate the registration process for a medical marijuana card.
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