Arkansas: Medical marijuana sales tax receipts surpass $30 million, overall sales will soon hit $300 million

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Collections from Arkansas state taxes on medical marijuana purchases recently surpassed $30 million.

According to the latest report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the 6.5% state sales tax and 4% privilege tax established by the legislature have netted about $31,663,022 as of March 31, 2021.

Medical marijuana sales began in June 2019. While the 6.5% tax does not apply when a cultivator sells to a dispensary, the 4% does apply to those sales. Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said the sales tax numbers have "exceeded expectations." Overall sales will soon surpass $300 million, he added.

Fort Cannabis Co., the only medical marijuana dispensary currently in Fort Smith, began operations in mid-December 2019. The next closest dispensaries are in Arkansas are located in northwest Arkansas and Clarksville. Others are located closer in Oklahoma.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reminded medical marijuana cardholders in 2019 that crossing state lines with marijuana is a federal crime and violates the rules of the Arkansas amendment. 

From the time Fort Cannabis opened on to the end of February, the latest numbers available, the company sold 1,592.87 pounds of medical marijuana.

 

"Most of it is has been for pain and anxiety," said Fort Cannabis general manager Jordan Mooney. "One of our biggest goals is to get people off of opioids. The side-effects for opioids are awful, for multiple reasons

Mooney noted Fort Cannabis has a full-time pharmacist on hand to talk about medical marijuana replacements for opioids and offer advice on what products work best with certain ailments.

Most of the anxiety issues, Mooney, added, are post-traumatic stress disorder-related, while medical marijuana is commonly used by their patients for complications from back injuries, amputations and multiple sclerosis.

"Products are changing daily," Mooney said. "We're working to get the medication here and to the patients and stay in compliance with the state. Whatever it takes to help people get off opioids."

River Valley Relief   is in the process of constructing a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Fort Smith with expectations to start growing plants in July. Product from River Valley Relief would then be available in the fall.

"We will produce a substantial amount, which will increase supply," River Valley Relief owner Storm Nolan said. "We hope to make cannabis more affordable for Arkansas patents."

 

While River Valley Relief has a few core people already involved, Nolan intends to start hiring more workers for the cultivation facility closer to the time of completing the facility. With their closest competitor having about 120 employees, Nolan expects to eventually match that in employment numbers.

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