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Medical marijuana patients spending almost $900K a day

by David Showers | April 16, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Medical marijuana is displayed in a glass case for customers at Green Springs Medical on March 26, 2020. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

Daily average sales for medical marijuana approached almost $900,000 during the 31-day reporting period that ended Sunday, according to the report the state revenue agency released earlier this week.

The 32 dispensaries that were operating as of Sunday reported sales of $27 million on 3,730 pounds sold. Average daily sales during the 31 days exceeded the 23-day reporting period that ended March 11 by almost 30%.

Patients have purchased more than 40,000 pounds of marijuana since the state's first legal sale of the drug in May 2019. The Tax Procedure Act prohibits the state from releasing revenue figures for individual dispensaries. In aggregate, they reported sales of $285 million through Sunday, charging about $16 per gram on average.

Suite 443, one of two licensed dispensaries in Garland County, ranked third in sales during the 31-day period that ended Sunday, reporting sales of 276.68 pounds. The Malvern Avenue location ranked third for the second-straight reporting period and in the top five for the seventh-straight reporting period.

Green Springs Medical, the only licensed dispensary in the city limits of Hot Springs, ranked 10th during the reporting period that ended Sunday, reporting 167.71 pounds sold. The Seneca Street location ranked 11th or 12th in the five previous sales report.

The ReLeaf Center's 373.38 pounds in reported sales led all dispensaries. The Bentonville location has led nine out of the last 10 sales reports and holds the overall sales lead, reporting more than 4,600 pounds sold since opening in August 2019.

Natural Relief was second in sales for the third-straight reporting period. The Sherwood location reported sales of 318.59 pounds. Plant Family Therapeutics in Mountain Home ranked fourth, reporting sales of 250.45 pounds.

The Department of Finance and Administration said six more dispensaries are in the process of opening. The Medical Marijuana Commission has awarded 38 of the 40 dispensary licenses permitted by the state constitutional amendment voters passed in 2016. The amendment authorized marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

The number of active patient cards increased by more than 3,500 from March 20 to Saturday, according to Arkansas Department of Health statistics. More than 74,000 Arkansans had active cards as of Saturday.

Physicians can no longer use telemedicine to certify conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use. The March 31 executive order extending the state's public health emergency through May 30 didn't extend the order issued last April that allowed state agencies to suspend statutes or rules hindering them from delivering services during the emergency.

The Health Department had invoked the order to allow physicians to use telemedicine to certify qualifying conditions. Since April 1, a written certification from a physician requires an in-person assessment. The Medical Marijuana Amendment conditioned the issuance of a written certification on a physician's assessment of the patient's medical history and current condition.

The physician must certify "the qualifying patient has a qualifying medical condition and the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient," according to the amendment.

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