On Friday, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will begin implementing the voter-approved medical cannabis regime by accepting applications from operator hopefuls and potential patients, the Associated Press reports.
Patient applicants must pay a $50 application fee and, if approved, the card must be renewed annually. State officials are expecting between 20,000 and 40,000 people to apply. Patient applications must include written certifications from a physician whom they have an established relationship demonstrating the patient’s need for medical cannabis.
Applications for would-be operators also open on Friday, applications are available online via the Medical Marijuana Commission’s website.
Patient registration comes later than expected in the state, as the commission had expected to begin the program in March. Lawmakers had attempted to ban smoking and edibles under the constitutional amendment but those changes were blocked by the state Senate.
Despite the victory by voters in November, the measure is still opposed by the state Surgeon General, who expressed concerns about cannabis packaging potentially appealing to children.
“Edibles concern me more than the smoking aspect,” Dr. Greg Bledsoe testified during a Senate legislative committee hearing. “It’s been very difficult to determine the THC levels in some of these products.”
Storm Nolan, founder of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association — and whose mother died after becoming addicted to opioid painkillers — said that medical cannabis “cannot come soon enough” for patients.
The initial application period will run until Sept. 18.