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The History of Arkansas Weed Laws

by in Medical Marijuana April 12, 2021

1923 America

The history of Arkansas weed laws goes back to 1923. As marijuana farming and use were increasing, so were stereotypes of marijuana users. There was no clear evidence showing widespread negative effects of marijuana use, but the government impulsively banned it completely and made possessing it illegal.

The War on Drugs

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act which made punishments for convicted drug users stronger. Among other things, it put into place a series of mandatory minimum sentences, which more harshly punished caught criminals – the first step backward in years!

Hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested for having marijuana since then, and the buffed-up charges included hefty fines and up to 1-year jail term, and even longer for repeat offenders.

Into the 21st Century

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA), initially known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act or simply “Issue 5”, was included in 2012’s November ballot, and the fight to pass it was hotly contested. Unfortunately for many patients hoping for better Arkansas weed laws, it failed by a narrow margin of 48.6% to 51.4%. If it had passed, it would have allowed citizens to use and even to grow their own cannabis.

Despite the loss, for the first time in a long time, the legalization of weed felt like an inevitability – there was suddenly much hope that one day there would be better Arkansas weed laws. This motivated the supporters who wanted marijuana legal in Arkansas to prepare for the next elections. In 2014, a move by the US Congress made it more difficult for authorities to raid medical marijuana growers in marijuana-legal states, another great step toward better Arkansas weed laws!

2016 General Elections

Over the next two years, amendments were made to Issue 5, giving birth to the current AMMA, documented as “Issue 6”. Again, this was included in the ballot, and this time it passed with 53.2% of total votes. But this long-overdue moment did not come without struggle. In fact, there had been a competing bill, “Issue 7”, which had a clause that would allow the government to criminalize medical marijuana again if certain measures weren’t met going forward. Luckily, the Arkansas Supreme Court stamped it out of the ballot beforehand. 

The new Arkansas weed laws included certain qualifications that have to be met by cannabis patients, and they added regulations for safe dispensaries. 


What followed 2016 was a series of amendments that set consumption regulations and dictated qualification criteria for physicians, which delayed the opening of dispensaries. The first dispensary didn’t open until three years later, and in that time, a total of 24 bills were passed into law concerning the use of medical marijuana in the state.

So, medical marijuana is legal in Arkansas at last. The state allows patients to access medical marijuana with a card that is issued to an individual, as long as they meet certain conditions. After getting your medical marijuana card, we advise you to go through the entire list of Arkansas weed laws, so you do not end up on the wrong side of the authorities.
While Arkansas does have some of the stickiest cannabis rules and regulations, we have to appreciate that, with marijuana legal in Arkansas now, lots of patients will be able to find new, natural methods of addressing their wellness. The state now has more than 30 medical marijuana dispensaries that actively provide medical marijuana as a supplement for the treatment of various conditions.

Doctor Reviewing Qualification of a Client

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