During its first six months in business, Arkansas' new medical marijuana industry made an impressive $21 million in sales.
From the middle of May until the end of November, licensed dispensaries sold 3,098 pounds of weed to happy customers all across the Land of Opportunity. Monthly sales figures are averaging around $3.3 million a month, and about 210 pounds of weed is still being sold every single week.
These sales figures have already outpaced Illinois' medical marijuana program, which sells around $2.2 million a month. And in Ohio, a state with four times as many residents as Arkansas, sales are only slightly higher, at $3.6 million a month.
The strength of these sales is especially surprising, given the limitations that the state's medical cannabis industry has faced. When sales began in May, dispensaries were restricted to selling dry flower only. Edibles, vapes, and other products did not appear until later in the summer. Also, as of November, only 11 of the state's planned 32 licensed dispensaries had opened for business.
Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which is also in charge of the state's medical marijuana program, told Marijuana Business Daily that the massive demand for medical cannabis came as quite a surprise. “A few months ago the question was whether we could potentially reach 1,000 pounds sold by the end of 2019,” Hardin said. “The question now is whether we reach 4,000.”
If dispensaries keep moving around 200 pounds of weed a week, it's likely that Hardin will see that goal become a reality.
Arkansas residents approved the state's medical marijuana law in 2016 via a ballot measure. The program was slow to get off the ground, however, and by the following summer, not a single business had applied for a legal cannabis license. Eventually, applications began to roll in, and dispensaries were set to open their doors in the spring of 2018. A state judge stepped in and delayed matters further, however, and sales did not begin until this May.
When sales finally began, a little over 12,000 patients had enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program. But by November, that number grew by almost 150 percent, to nearly 30,000 patients. The remaining 21 dispensaries in the state are now working to open their doors, and ABC officials are threatening to take action against those that have not opened for business by the end of next month.