FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' health department has yet to issue licenses to the thousands of residents approved to buy medical marijuana in the state, which is affecting patients' ability to get temporary licenses in neighboring Oklahoma.
The Arkansas Department of Health likely won't distribute medical marijuana cards until February, agency spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said. State health officials don't want residents to pay for a card they won't be able to use yet, in part because the cards must be renewed after a year, she said.
Marijuana-growing businesses licensed by Arkansas have said their harvests won't be ready until about April. The Arkansas Health Department has said cards wouldn't be printed until a month before Arkansas dispensaries have medical cannabis available, the Southwest Times Record reported.
Without the state cards, Arkansas patients can't get a temporary out-of-state card to buy, use and grow medical cannabis in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority won't accept Arkansas patients' medical cannabis approval letters for verification in the temporary license application, said spokeswoman Melissa Miller. Oklahoma's temporary licenses last for 30 days and are renewable. Miller noted medical marijuana and related products cannot be taken across state lines.
Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, but the state's implementation process is moving more slowly than its neighbor.
Oklahoma's medical marijuana agency had awarded licenses to 805 dispensaries, 1,302 growers and 341 processors as of Dec. 31. Meanwhile, Arkansas has awarded five licenses for cultivators to grow marijuana, with plans to award licenses to the state's first dispensaries soon.