Is Cannabis Legal in Arkansas?

Weed is legal for medical patients in Arkansas, but not for recreational users. Approved medical patients can buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces legally.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

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Legality of marijuana in Arkansas
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Key Takeaways

  • Recreational weed use is illegal in Arkansas.
  • Simple possession still results in jail time. Possession of less than 4 ounces can lead to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Arkansas medical marijuana laws allow anyone with a qualifying condition (and a weed card) to buy up to 2.5 oz of flower every two weeks.
  • Growing weed is illegal, even for medical patients (pending a coming ballot initiative), and is generally treated the same as possession.

Weed is legal in Arkansas for medical purposes but not recreationally.

This means that while you will get in trouble for possession if you aren’t a registered patient, you can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis you bought from an in-state dispensary.

If you’re interested in receiving medical marijuana, or just finding out more about Arkansas weed laws as they relate to recreational use, we’ve collected all the information you need.  

Weed is not legal for recreational use in Arkansas, but it is for medical use. Qualified patients can have up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days.

Recreational weed is not legal in Arkansas.

Despite attempts to get a legalization initiative on the ballot, there have been failures in the past and the attorney general rejected the wording for the most recent ballot initiative. In 2022, a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana failed with 56% of voters rejecting the measure. 

Penalties for Possession

Unfortunately, despite many efforts to get weed legalized, you can still get jail time for simple possession in Arkansas. For amounts over 10 pounds, there are also mandatory minimum sentences.

Here is the run-down of the punishments for different amounts:

  • If you have less than 4 ounces and it’s not your fifth conviction, it’s a class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • If you have four previous convictions or more and you have between 1 and 4 ounces, it’s a class D felony, carrying a sentence of up to 6 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • If you’re caught with between 4 ounces and 10 pounds, it’s also a class D felony, and carries the same sentence as above.
  • If you have between 10 and 25 pounds, it’s a class C felony, and punishable with a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years (maximum 10) and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • For between 25 and 100 pounds, it’s a class B felony, carrying a sentence of between 5 years (mandatory minimum) and 10 years, plus a fine of up to $15,000.
  • For amounts above 100 pounds (up to 500 pounds), it’s a class A felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years up to a maximum of 30, and a fine of up to $15,000.

Medical marijuana is legal in Arkansas following the passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment in 2016.

This made it legal for Arkansas residents with one of the qualifying conditions to get marijuana if approved by a state-licensed physician, and also established licenses for dispensaries and cultivators.

Patient Possession Limits in Arkansas

Arkansas medical marijuana laws limit patients to 2.5 ounces (70.87 g) of usable marijuana (page 9, section (a)).

You can buy up to 2.5 ounces from a dispensary every two weeks, but this is also the limit for possession so you should be careful to ensure you don’t have more than this in total.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arkansas?

The process for getting an Arkansas medical marijuana card is basically the same as it is in most states.

You’ll need four things to make the application:

  1. Physician Written Certification
  2. Photocopy of your Arkansas driver’s license or other state ID
  3. The completed application form
  4. A $50 fee for the application

The written certification is the most important part, and for this you’ll need to have a physician licensed in Arkansas, with whom you have a genuine doctor-patient relation, to certify you for use of marijuana.

The qualifying conditions are:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health

Even if you have one of the qualifying conditions, it’s possible that your physician won’t recommend you for medical marijuana.

However, in most cases if you have one of these conditions and other treatments haven’t been effective, then your physician will recommend you.

After this, you need to submit your application through the online Arkansas Medical Marijuana System within 30 days to qualify for an Arkansas weed card.

Can You Consume in Public?

Arkansas medical marijuana laws make it clear that you can’t consume cannabis in public.

Although they specifically list many specific locations (e.g. schools, correctional facilities and motor vehicles), the basic rule is that you can only consume cannabis in private residences unless it’s a licensed childcare or social care facility.

They also point out that the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 also covers marijuana smoking, and violations are punishable by a fine of between $100 and $500 (page 8, line 7).

Can You Drive Under the Influence?

As in any state, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Arkansas.

For medical marijuana patients, the “affirmative defense” (“yes I’m high but I’m a medical patient”) is explicitly deemed invalid.

The state also has an implied consent law, so by driving on the road in the state, you’re already taken to have given your consent to testing of your breath or blood to determine if you’re intoxicated. Refusal is both treated as evidence of guilt and will lead to a 180-day license suspension.

For the DUI itself, the punishments are:

  • For a first offense, you’ll get between 24 hours and 1 year of jail time (with a possibility of public service instead), a fine of between $150 and $1,000, and your license will be suspended for 120 days.
  • For a second offense (within 5 years), the minimum sentence is 7 days in jail, up to a maximum of 1 year (with an option of 30 days of community service instead), you’ll be fined between $400 and $3,000, and your license will be suspended for 24 months.
  • For a third offense (within 5 years), you’ll get between 90 days and 1 year in jail (which could be replaced by a minimum of 90 days’ community service), a fine of $900 up to a maximum of $5,000, and your license will be suspended for 30 months.
  • A fourth offense (within 5 years) is considered a felony, so the jail time increases to between 1 and 6 years (with a minimum of 1 year community service as a possible alternative), a fine of between $900 to $5,000, your license could be revoked for 4 years, and you may have your vehicle seized.
  • For fifth or subsequent offenses, you’ll be imprisoned for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years (community service is possible instead, though less likely), and a fine of $900 to $5,000.

Delta-8 THC is still legal in Arkansas following a court ruling about Act 629

Act 629 had explicitly banned delta-8 THC when it was passed in April 2023. However, the bill also effectively redefined hemp, which is not permitted under the rules of the Farm Bill, and also prevented interstate commerce in hemp. As a result of these issues, a court ruled that the act cannot be enforced in September 2023. 

The case is set to go to trial on August 27th, 2024, but until the legal action is resolved, delta-8 THC remains legal in the state under Act 565 (also known as the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Production Act). 

RELATED: Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Map

Is Weed Decriminalized in Arkansas?

Weed is not decriminalized in Arkansas as a state.

However, there are a few localities where marijuana offenses are treated as lowest priority. This includes Eureka Springs, Fayetteville and Little Rock. These are primarily for personal possession amounts, with Fayetteville specifying an ounce or less, but Eureka Springs not really specifying anything.

So if you’re wondering “is weed decriminalized in Little Rock?” or “is marijuana decriminalized in Fayetteville?” then even though the answer is technically no, it’s basically at the bottom of the list for cops in those cities.

Unfortunately, growing weed is not legal in Arkansas, even for medical patients.

The punishment for growing depends on whether it’s ruled to be for distribution or not. 

This can be determined in many ways, including having the means to weigh and separate weed, having some split into bags, having records of transactions, if you have a weapon on you when you’re caught, and if you have at least two other controlled substances.

If it isn’t deemed to be to deliver, the punishments are the same as those for possession.

If it’s deemed with intent to deliver, the punishments are:

  • For up to 1/2 an ounce (14 g), it’s a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • For higher amounts up to 4 ounces (113.4 g), it’s a class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • For between 4 ounces and 25 pounds (11.3 kg), it’s a class C felony, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years and up to 10 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • For between 25 pounds and 100 pounds (45.4 kg), it’s a class B felony, with a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence (maximum 20 years), and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • If you have more than this and up to 500 pounds (226.8 kg), it’s a class A felony and carries a mandatory minimum of 6 years (maximum 30 years) and a fine of up to $15,000.

After the failure of the 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, there isn’t much hope for the state to legalize it this year.

There is an initiative to legalize cannabis in 2024, but the Attorney General recently rejected the wording. To go ahead, the creator Cedric L. King would have to get an amendment approved and collect 90,704 signatures before July 5th. 

However, there is a marijuana initiative on the ballot in November 2024, which intends to loosen the rules surrounding medical marijuana. The wording for this one has been approved, and the proposal would make it possible for medical patients to grow at home, allow pre-rolled joints to be sold, increase the number of health professionals who can certify patients and loosen the strict requirements for qualifying conditions. 

The initiative would also trigger the legalization of marijuana if it were legalized at the federal level. However, since the federal government opted for rescheduling rather than descheduling, as things stand marijuana will likely remain illegal at the federal level. 

So while marijuana likely won’t be legalized for recreational use in Arkansas in 2024, there is still a great deal of interest in legalization in the state.

The issue will likely come up again in the next couple of years, especially if the medical program is liberalized by the new initiative. 


So weed isn’t legal in Arkansas unless you’re a medical patient.

If you have a qualifying condition and your doctor agrees it’s a good idea, you can legally have up to two and a half ounces.

Delta-8 THC is still legal in the state, but is likely to continue to face stiff opposition.

Arkansas weed laws are increasingly stuck between two extremes: legalization initiatives continue to be proposed and medical marijuana laws may be loosened, and yet you can still get in trouble for possession of paraphernalia. Although things are looking up, it’s going to be a hard fight.