Product shortages, rising prices hit Arkansas medical marijuana market
Published October 2, 2020
A leading Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary says it’s facing a product shortage that can be resolved only by additional cultivation capacity.
Dragan Vicentic, owner of Green Springs medical marijuana dispensary in Hot Springs, the leading MMJ seller in the state, told Little Rock TV station KATV that the shortage has been increasing since June. He said his dispensary recently ran out of a dozen marijuana strains.
While that might seem like good news to a business, the product shortages are hampering the ability of the stores to meet patient demand.
Vicentic and Christopher Miles, who runs a website that covers MMJ news in Arkansas, agreed that more cannabis cultivators are needed.
Arkansas has 83,000 registered patients, but only three cultivation facilities are in operation. Two additional grow sites are scheduled to come online before year-end, according to a state MMJ operations report.
Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas recently exceeded the $150 million milestone for a program that launched in May 2019.
Many states are seeing high demand for medical cannabis during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Arkansas industry insiders said additional demand in that state is coming from patients whose doctors have recommended medical marijuana to replace opioids and from residents of Missouri, where the launch of an MMJ program has been delayed. Arkansas permits qualifying patients from other states to register for a temporary 30-day card.
Arkansas' medical marijuana market is facing a product shortage that a leading dispensary says can be resolved only by additional cultivation capacity.
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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Short On Flower Supply
Arkansas medical marijuana dispensaries are experiencing a shortage of the flower form of the product and a spokesman for Alcoholic Beverage Control said the agency is looking into the supply issue.
The number of medical marijuana patients in the state has surged past 80,000. The state has only four cultivators in operation, and dispensaries report having trouble getting some strains entirely. The supply of other products, such as tinctures, vape cartridges and edibles, is sufficient, dispensary owners say.
Arkansas sees medical marijuana shortage, patients in need of medicine
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.
Arkansans spent $154 million on medical marijuana
Arkansans spent $154 million on 24,067 pounds of medical marijuana since the first dispensary opened in May 2019. This is according to Scott Hardin, who is a spokesperson with the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.
In Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley specifically, 8,416 pounds of medical marijuana were sold since August 2019.
There are currently 29 dispensaries in Arkansas, and the state expects to open eight more.
83,779 Arkansans have a patient card for medical marijuana. Starting on September 30th, expired patient cards must be renewed to make new purchases.
A trip to the doctor’s office for card renewal is not required. Patients can do a Telehealth appointment with a doctor to confirm their conditions and to receive a patient card.
Arkansas: Average daily medical marijuana sales climb to $600,000
Medical marijuana sales from Aug. 21 through Wednesday ticked up compared to the last reporting period, according to the sales report the state revenue agency released Friday.
Daily sales during the 20-day period that ended Wednesday were $600,000 on average. The daily sales average during the 16-day reporting period that ended Aug. 20 was $592,000. The Department of Finance and Administration said the 29 dispensaries in operation during the most recent reporting period averaged $20,698 in daily sales.
Arkansas patients attest: Medical marijuana helps
Since Arkansas voters passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment in 2016, more than 72,500 Arkansans have obtained Medical Marijuana Prescription Cards in order to obtain products to treat the 18 qualifying conditions.
These Arkansans include a sleepless cancer survivor, a 10-year-old epileptic child with seizures and a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are the stories of the conditions that led them to pursue medical marijuana as a treatment and their experiences using the drug.
Arkansas: Medical marijuana sales top 20,000 pounds since beginning
The state’s monthly report shows medical marijuana sales remain strong in Arkansas, which has almost 76,000 people with cards allowing them to purchase the product.
Since legal sales began in May 2019, some 20,000 pounds of cannabis have been sold, grossing $131 million. Sales in the last two weeks have averaged $590,000 daily, according to a report from Scott Hardin at the Department of Finance and Administration.
A total of 28 dispensaries are serving patients with nine remaining that are working toward opening. Ten of the 28 in operation have sold more than 1,000 pounds.
Arkansas: Suspension of expiration dates on medical marijuana patient cards ending soon
Earlier this year, the Arkansas Department of Health suspended expiration dates on medical marijuana registry cards due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This allowed individuals to temporarily use their cards past the expiration date written on their card.
This temporary extension will end on September 30, 2020. Cards with an expiration date on or before September 30, 2020, will expire on September 30, 2020.
Cardholders need to submit a renewal application by September 11, 2020, to allow time for processing. Cards with an expiration date after September 30, 2020, will expire on the date written on the card.
High demand for medical marijuana causes shortage in parts of Arkansas
There are several questions in both Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley regarding medical marijuana dispensaries and the struggle to meet the needs of Arkansans.
Patient Carla Thompson says if medical marijuana doesn’t become more available in Arkansas she may have to go to Oklahoma.
“Like right now I’m almost out so tomorrow I will probably have to go online and search around and try to find somewhere that has something,” Thompson said.
Thompson and many other patients say finding access to the medicine they need is almost impossible. She says her local dispensary, Fort Cannabis Company, struggles to keep its shelves full of any strain.
“Mostly from just anything we ran completely out of flower for two weeks now,” said Fort Cannabis Manager Alisha.
Arkansas: Cannabis Supply Problem, Real or Not, Roils Industry as State Adds Licenses
As Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry blossoms, with the state issuing more licenses for cultivation centers and dispensaries to serve more than 60,000 authorized Arkansas patients, cultivators are pushing back against a narrative that short wholesale supplies have kept prices too high for some patients to buy.
“The argument for issuing additional grow licenses was based on the idea that cultivators charge too much for cannabis,” one grow operation executive told Arkansas Business. “They said basically that there’s no supply and patients can’t get their medicine. That’s simply not true. We welcome competition and the issuing of new licenses, but not under a false premise.”
Arkansas Allows E-Signatures For Cannabis Legalization Campaign
A group pushing to place a recreational marijuana amendment on the November ballot is breathing a sigh of relief following an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling allowing them to collect signatures electronically.
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