Since the state’s first dispensary opened about 16 months ago, Arkansas patients have purchased more than $131 million worth of medical marijuana. These sales have generated more than $13 million in state tax revenue, contributing to the state’s goal of achieving a coveted cancer institute designation for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
There are 80,000 medical marijuana patients in Arkansas and the number continues to grow. An increase in patients is expected to push associated state revenues higher.
As of Sept. 29, patients have purchased more than 24,000 pounds of medical marijuana.
“As of now, that number [of patients] continues to grow consistently, month by month,” state Medical Marijuana Commission spokesman Scott Hardin said in September. “At this point, there is no indication that that is slowing down anytime soon. We are close to 80,000 today, it certainly looks like 100,000 is going to be here before we know it.”
With each medical marijuana purchase, patients pay a pair of state taxes: the state sales tax of 6.5 percent and a privilege tax of 4 percent. Purchasers also pay all applicable local taxes, such as city and county sales taxes.
The state sales tax of 6.5 percent, which voters approved as part of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment in 2016, has generated $8.25 million since May 2019. That revenue is divided among the three state agencies that manage the state’s medical marijuana program: The Medical Marijuana Commission, which handles licensing; Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates the medical marijuana industry; and the state Department of Health, which issues patient cards.
The privilege tax of 4 percent, passed by the state legislature in 2017, has generated $7.7 million. In addition to the patients who pay the sales and privilege taxes, dispensaries also pay the 4