Over the past six weeks, Arkansas' medical marijuana industry sold more than $30 million worth of legal pot, boosting the state's all-time sales total to over $400 million.
Between the middle of July and the end of August, the state's licensed dispensaries sold 5,038 pounds of weed, according to a new report by the state Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). These impressive sales tally up to $33 million, almost 25 percent more than the $26.5 million recorded in the state's previous sales report.
Arkansas' medical cannabis industry has been in a constant state of expansion since the first dispensary opened for business in May 2019. From then through this August, Arkansans have spent $398 million to buy 59,047 pounds of medical pot. And after the Labor Day holiday – traditionally a banner sales weekend for weed-legal states – all-time sales are expected to have topped $400 million.
The DFA reports that 17 dispensaries have now sold more than 1,000 pounds of weed each. The all-time top seller is the Releaf Center in Bentonville, which just became the first dispensary to exceed 6,000 pounds in total sales. There are now a total of 36 dispensaries in the state, and another two are hoping to open their doors before the end of the year.
These impressive sales are a clear indication that Arkansas’ cannabis industry has been able to thrive in the face of adversity. The state actually legalized medical marijuana way back in 2016 by way of a ballot measure, but conservative lawmakers and legal battles managed to delay the program’s rollout for years. At first, businesses seemed afraid to even submit applications for legal weed licenses, but the program finally got underway in the spring of 2019.
In the first six months of legal sales, local dispensaries made $21 million, already outpacing states with more established medical pot markets. Four months later, sales doubled to $40 million, and three months after that, total sales reached $100 million for the first time. Last July, the state had nearly 64,000 patients enrolled in the program, and the DFA estimated that these patients were buying as much as $500,000 worth of weed every single day.
And in the thirteen months since the state broke its $100 million record, total sales have tripled to $400 million. There are now 79,420 registered patients in the state, up by 666 from the total reported in mid-July. Arkansas is well on its way to becoming one of the country's strongest medical cannabis markets, but it still has a long way to go to catch up with Florida, which sold $1.2 million of medical marijuana in 2020.
Hoping to build on the success of the state's medical pot industry, activists have started campaigning to place an adult-use legalization initiative on next year's midterm election ballot. In order to place the proposal on the ballot, advocates will need to collect a total of 89,151 valid signatures by next July. As of last month, activists had only collected 10,000 signatures, but they will be working continually to reach the total before the deadline runs out.