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Arkansans spent $181 million on more than 28,000 pounds of medical marijuana in 2020, the first full year of legal cannabis sales in the state, according to data from the state Department of Finance & Administration.
But the medical marijuana phenomenon is not spread evenly across the state. As of Dec. 31 — a record day for marijuana sales — 31 dispensaries were open in 23 of the state’s 75 counties. Fourteen of them had opened in 2019 and reported full-year sales of between 400 and 3,000 pounds of the plant. The 32nd dispensary opened in Hardy on Jan. 7 of this year.
Interest in buying medical marijuana is similarly uneven. Arkansas Business compared a state Department of Health report on the number of marijuana cards issued to patients in each county with the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate of each county’s population and found wide variation.
Baxter County on the Missouri border had 1,883 card holders as of the October report, which is almost 4.5% of the county’s estimated population of just under 42,000. Chicot County, which borders both Louisiana and Mississippi in extreme southeast Arkansas, had only 69 residents with marijuana cards — 0.7% of the estimated population as of 2019.
Stone County, immediately south of Baxter County, was the only other county in which more than 4% of the population had a marijuana card. Generally, south and east Arkansas had fewer cards per capita than central and northwest Arkansas. (See map.) The statewide average was 2.3%, with Pulaski County near that benchmark and Washington and Benton counties both above 3%.
In this issue, we rank the counties by the percentage of the population holding marijuana cards as of the October report. The list includes the number of cards, the