Patients in Arkansas have bought more than 10,000 pounds of medical marijuana since the new law took effect nearly a year ago.

Newly reported figures released this week found that medical cannabis sales eclipsed $63 million in the program’s first 11 months in operation. That also amounts to about 10,050 pounds worth of medicinal pot.

The figures were provided by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, and were reported on by local television station KATV.

As with other medical and recreational marijuana markets, Arkansas has seen a sales spike amid the coronavirus pandemic. March 20 represented the largest single day of medical marijuana sales in the state, according to KATV. And like other parts of the country, Arkansas dispensaries have begun delivering cannabis products to accommodate patients adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

MMJ’s Journey In AR

Arkansas voters approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, but the program’s rollout was beset by a number of delays. State officials announced last year that it had finally awarded 32 licenses for dispensaries. Those dispensaries were required to pay a $15,000 licensing fee, as well as a $100,000 performance bond.

Medical marijuana sales began last May, but according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “nearly half of Arkansas’ 32 dispensaries remain inoperable a year after the permits were issued.”

The medical marijuana program has faced resistance from lawmakers. Last year, a month before sales began, legislators passed a bill that barred medical cannabis companies from advertising to audiences made up of more than 30 percent children, and from placing ads within 1,000 feet of schools or daycares. The measure also prohibited ads from appearing on public transit, and imposed stiff restrictions on TV, radio, print media, and online advertising. 

The program has also faced judicial hurdles. In February, a county judge in Arkansas issued a temporary freeze on issuing new dispensary licenses after a company sued the state’s medical marijuana commission alleging that it was passed over for a license that was instead issued to a different company in Pine Bluff that actually received a lower application score.

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