Medical marijuana industry in Arkansas has skyrocketed


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Arkansas – Arkansas’s burgeoning medical marijuana sector has reached a significant milestone, exceeding one billion dollars in revenue.

In the past four years, the program’s robust sales have contributed millions in tax revenue.

The question arises: what impact does this financial influx have on the residents of Arkansas?

This past Friday saw Dragon Bicentic, of Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, assist a multitude of individuals in obtaining their medical marijuana prescriptions.

“Today’s been crazy,” Bicentic said as reported by THV 11. “It’s the first of the month, so it’s busier than most days.”

Being among the earliest dispensaries to commence operations in Arkansas, Bicentric observed a steady increase in customer traffic since the inception of the medical marijuana program in 2019.

“The state originally thought it was gonna be like a 1% participation rate, and we’re at 95,000 people now,” Bicentric said. “We’re three and a half times what the state originally thought would be.”

This ongoing surge in business translates to greater revenue, including a rise in tax dollars for the state, now reaching unprecedented levels.

Monitoring these financial achievements is Scott Hardin from the state’s Finance and Administration Department.

“We crossed $1 billion in overall sales, meaning patients have spent from their pockets $1 billion-plus on medical marijuana purchases,” Hardin said.

Out of the billion-dollar total, 10.5% is allocated to taxes, amounting to roughly $115 million.

Hardin elaborated on how these tax revenues serve the state.

“$87 million of that went to UAMS, specifically for their designation,” Hardin said. “Their work toward a national cancer institute designation.”

However, recent legislative changes redirect these funds to address unpaid school lunch debts.

“What that means is if you’re already on a reduced lunch, and you still owe $2 for your school lunch every day, that medical marijuana revenue comes in and pays the $2 to ensure that it’s free,” Hardin said. “The question is, ‘How is this helping Arkansans?’ That’s the answer.”

Hardin anticipates that the program will maintain its growth trajectory in membership, as witnessed over the last four years, leading to increased tax revenue from the state’s 38 dispensaries.

Beyond financial gains, dispensary managers such as Bicentic find deeper gratification.

“Just meeting people and hearing them say, ‘Thank you for saving my life,'” Bicentic shared. “At first, I didn’t know what that meant, and then they said, ‘I’m off opioids.'”

Hardin mentioned that the funds earmarked for reduced lunch debt will be reallocated at the conclusion of this fiscal year in the summer.


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