Arkansas sees medical marijuana shortage, patients in need of medicine

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The Arkansas Department of Health’s website reports that there are 83,779 active medical marijuana cards in the state, but dispensaries and patients are seeing an unprecedented amount of shortages.

“We had to raise our prices because we had just too many people coming through the shop,” Owner of Green Springs Medical marijuana dispensary in Hot Springs, Dragan Vicentic, said. He said he’s seen the shortage at his dispensary since June. They have a list of 75 different strands of marijuana and he was out a dozen this week. He said the shortage is growing each week and it’s impacting patient’s health.

“It’s more expensive, they’re having to go back to the streets possibly to get it from the people on the black market which is a terrible idea,” Vicentic said.

Vicentic says a lot of doctors turned patients away from opioids to marijuana.

“They can’t go back to their doctors and get their prescriptions for opioids again because the doctors won't give them to them so it’s a huge deal for the patients,” Vicentic said.

Christopher Miles is a patient and also runs a website that covers medical marijuana news in Arkansas.

“In Arkansas, we can’t grow our own medicine so we are left having to buy from the dispensaries and another thing with that too is it’s not just Arkansas patients buying from our dispensaries,” Miles said. He said that a lot of dispensaries are seeing business from Missouri residents who are allowed to grow their own marijuana but do not have dispensaries open right now.

Both agree that the issue is not having enough cultivators in the state.

“If you look at our neighboring states like Oklahoma they have 2,000,” Miles said. He said that Arkansas only has four cultivators and three that just got approved for their licenses but are months away from operating.

“It isn’t just a bunch of stoners whining about not having their product this is a lot of legitimate patients who have anything from cancer to diabetes or mental things or PTSD and they really just need their medicine."

Vicentic said the medical marijuana commission’s rule is one cultivator per every 6,000 patients. With almost 83,000 patients, he said there should be almost 14 cultivators in the state, not four. He is asking that a vote be held to allow the commission to release new licenses to new cultivators.

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