History of CBD and Cannabis: Arkansas
The state legislature and residents have always been at odds on the issue of cannabis decriminalization. Cannabis was initially completely outlawed in 1923 and even possessing even trace amounts was considered a misdemeanor crime.
For decades, offenders were hit with heavy fines, jail sentences, and criminal records that would bar them from state education and job opportunities. In the same year as Arkansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington all banned cannabis as reports spread that it caused violence, lunacy, and family problems.
Despite gradual advancements, the current legal penalties on cannabis users has resulted in a situation of mass incarceration and loss of state revenue.
Cannabis, CBD, and Arkansas
Currently, anyone found in possession of under four ounces of cannabis has committed a Class A misdemeanor, resulting in fines of $2,500 and up to one year imprisonment. For those with previous conviction history, the felony could carry six years imprisonment and a $6000 fine. This makes Arkansas one of the harshest in the country when it comes to cannabis policy.
Over the years, there have been several failed or only partially implemented reforms to try and decrease the severity of cannabis drug crimes.
In 2012, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act was put up for vote on the state’s ballot, which would’ve allowed non-governmental institutions to grow medical grade cannabis and sell it to licensed patients. The act was just narrowly defeated by 48 percent in favor to a 51 percent against vote.
Soon enough, the public’s opinion would start to rapidly shift in favor of cannabis decriminalization. Research concerning the medical benefits of CBD and cannabis products went a long way towards convincing Arkansas residents that decriminalization could be a good thing.
In 2016, voters passed an initiative to legalize the medical use of cannabis as an amendment to the state constitution. Those who obtain a doctor’s note may possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis for twelve qualifying medical conditions, including PTSD, cachexia, are chemotherapy induced illness. Under the law, no patients can grow their own marijuana strains at home.
The very first legal medical marijuana dispensary opened up in May and has already generated millions in state revenue.
Aside from statewide initiatives, small cities like Eureka Springs voted to make enforcement of cannabis laws the lowest priority for municipal fleets. Other cities have gone on to pass very similar local resolutions, resulting in decreased enforcement of the state’s harsh possession penalties.