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Arkansas Residents May Now Get Temporary Medical Marijuana Licenses in Oklahoma

Arkansas’ 2-year-old MMJ program hasn’t licensed any dispensaries or even issued patient licenses, making its patients ineligible for Oklahoma’s out-of-state permits.

Adam Drury

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Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163
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Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program is just seven months old, but the state’s Medical Marijuana Authority has already issued tens of thousands of patient licenses and awarded multiple dispensary licenses. Hoping to grow its medical cannabis industry even more quickly, Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program also lets out-of-state patients obtain a temporary license to buy from Oklahoma dispensaries and possess medical cannabis in the state. The policy caught the attention of medical cannabis patients in neighboring Arkansas, where the state has yet to open any dispensaries in the 26 months since it legalized medical cannabis.

Like patients in any legal medical cannabis state, Arkansas residents may now get temporary medical marijuana licenses in Oklahoma. But until Arkansas actually issues official medical cannabis licenses to patients, they won’t meet Oklahoma’s application requirements. As a result, Arkansas’ medical cannabis patients are outraged and demanding the state government take immediate action.

Tired of Waiting, Arkansas MMJ Patients Hope for Medicine in Oklahoma

Arkansas voters legalized medical cannabis in 2016. More than two years later, there are still no medical cannabis dispensaries operating in Arkansas. The state hasn’t even awarded any dispensary licenses. And according to several reports, it appears that many if not most of the more than 6,000 patients with approval have not received an official license.

Meanwhile, Arkansas’ neighboring state of Oklahoma passed a medical marijuana initiative and set up dispensary retail operations within six months. Furthermore, Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program lets out-of-state patients obtain a temporary license to buy, possess, and take medical cannabis products. Temporary licenses are valid for 30-days and eligible for renewal up to the expiration of the out-of-state license. The rule seemed like a godsend for Arkansas patients growing impatient with their own state’s slow progress.

Unfortunately for Arkansas’ medical marijuana patient population, Oklahoma’s temporary license application requires proof of a valid out-of-state license. And despite issuing letters of approval, Arkansas has yet to issue the actual licenses. According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, those letters of approval aren’t good enough.

Patients Will be Able to Access Dispensaries in Oklahoma Before They Open in Arkansas

For Arkansas’ medical cannabis patients, having medicine so close yet so far away is agonizing. And they’re demanding that Arkansas officials finally issue patient licenses, not just letters. In response, the Arkansas Department of Health announced Wednesday that it would issue official documents to authorized patients within 30-days. But patients like Dorinda Vanzandt, who spoke with KFSM, say they’ve heard it all before.

On Jan. 9, Arkansas’ Department of Finance and Administration will hold a meeting—rescheduled from Dec. 19—to announce which dispensaries will receive operating licenses. But it will still take time before those dispensaries are able to sell to patients. If Arkansas patients do receive their licenses by early February, they’ll be able to access dispensaries in Oklahoma, but not in their home state. The Arkansas Health Department says dispensary sales should come online one month after patient licenses go out. But patients are skeptical the state will follow through with the timeline.

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