As of Friday, patients and hopeful growers and sellers of medical marijuana can turn in their applications.
Patients can turn in applications for a registry I.D. Card, good for one year, that allows them to purchase the drug. Those looking to get into the business-end of medical marijuana, can turn in applications to be one of the five cultivators or 32 dispensary owners in the state.
“A lot of people have waited so long that it’s like a dream,” said Melissa Fults. “It’s a combination of exciting, emotional for a lot of patients.”
Fults has been fighting for medical marijuana for years. As a patient, she believes this is a huge step.
Before patients turn in their applications with an I.D. and $50 fee, they have to have a physician’s signature recognized they have one of the 18 qualifying conditions. Still illegal federally, doctors aren’t required to sign the certifications. Fults told us patients have struggled to find doctors willing to sign the papers.
“You’re (doctors) just saying ‘my patient has this condition.’ So we’re hoping more doctors will understand this,” said Fults.
“If everything matches, you’ll get a response from us, a letter or an email saying ‘you’ve completed the application process and you’re eligible for a card,” said Robert Brech with the Arkansas Health Department.
You won’t get a card yet though, the Health Department expects to start distributing the cards 30 days before the first batch of marijuana is ready for sale, estimated early 2018.
“We’re going to keep an eye on the dispensaries and cultivation centers,” said Brech.
The Medical Marijuana Commission is also accepting applications to produce and sell the drug.
“If the interest that we’ve seen since the amendment passed is anything to go by, we’re expecting a good number of applications and it’s likely going to be competitive,” said Jake Bleed with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Those applications will be accepted until September 18 and will be judged using a merit system.
“They have to have the background necessary, they need to show they have a business plan in place and where they’re located,” Bleed noted the thorough application process.
The health department expects anywhere from 30 to 50 thousand patients to apply for a registry I.D. card. The best way is online or sending in a paper application through the mail.