Medical cannabis patients in Arkansas spend around $500,000 a day on legal weed, according to a new report from the state Department of Finance and Administration.
On May 10, 2019, Arkansas' first dispensary – Suite 443 in Hot Springs – opened its doors for business. From that day until June 25, 2020, the state's medicinal pot industry has sold 15,838 pounds of weed, amounting to $99.16 million in gross sales. According to the report, the state's 22 active dispensaries are now selling around half a million dollars' worth of weed every single day.
Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission (MMC), told local news outlet KNWA/KFTA that the total sales figure is “now certainly more than $100 million” as of this week, thanks to these steady daily sales. About a third of the total sales have come from Northwest Arkansas, where dispensaries have moved 4,938 pounds of weed since last August.
Arkansas' medical marijuana program is finally reaching maturity after a rocky start. A small majority of voters legalized medicinal pot by way of a ballot measure in 2016, but it took years to get the program running. At first, it seemed like businesses were afraid to even submit applications for legal weed licenses. But the program eventually got rolling and product finally became available last spring.
Over the past year, as more dispensaries opened, sales began climbing steadily. Within six months, dispensaries sold $21 million worth of weed, outpacing Illinois' medical cannabis sales. Four months later, the state doubled its sales to $40 million. And just three months after that, sales have more than doubled, breaking the $100 million point. As of last week, there are nearly 64,000 patients enrolled in the program.
This week, the MMC met to discuss expanding the program even further. The voter-approved medical marijuana law allows for a total of 30 dispensaries and five cultivators, but the state had only issued 23 of the dispensary licenses and three of the cultivation licenses to date. At the meeting, the commission approved the final two cultivation licenses with a narrow 2-2 vote. Four of the remaining seven dispensary licenses were also approved at the meeting.
Regulators hope that these new businesses will increase the availability of legal product, which will decrease the cost of medicinal pot. “Ultimately the patient is the winner, because the patient has more access to product,” said Hardin to FOX16 News. The commissioner added that he expects that the increased access to lower-priced product will allow the industry to easily double its first-year sales record.
“We did 100 million in the first year and I think we will do well over 200 million in the second year,” Hardin explained.