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Arkansas Marijuana Laws

Marijuana laws vary quite a bit from state to state. A growing number of states have legalized the plant. However, the federal government still has not done the same, with federal laws maintaining the illegal status of cannabis. At the same time, most states now allow the medical use of marijuana. However, this requires a physician's written recommendation. It may also require state registration. Each state has its own unique approach to regulation.

Arkansas Marijuana Laws at a Glance

Arkansas drug laws allow some discretion by the court. For recreational use and unlicensed commercial distribution, courts may still impose sentences that can include incarceration for up to one year for possession. Penalties are still imposed for scant amounts of marijuana.

The state also imposes mandatory minimum sentences for possession of more than 10 pounds or sale of more than four ounces of marijuana. Possession of more than 500 pounds of marijuana can be considered trafficking, or evidence of a presumption of intent to traffic.

In 2019, the Arkansas legislature specified that cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) derived from hemp are not considered marijuana under the criminal statute. However, the amount of THC present in the drug must be .3% or less.

Additional details about Arkansas's current marijuana laws are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Drug Charges and Patient Rights sections for more information.

Code Section

5-64-101, et seq.

Is Marijuana Legal in Arkansas?

Legal for medical use only



  • Less than 4 oz., 1st offense: Class A misdemeanor (max. one yr., $2,500 fine)
  • 1 oz. - less than 4 oz. AND 4 or more prior convictions: Class D felony (max. six yrs., $10,000 fine)
  • 4 oz. - less than 10 lbs.: Class D felony (max. six yrs., $10,000 fine)
  • 10 lbs. - less than 25 lbs.: Class C felony (mandatory min. three yrs. - max. 10 yrs. and $10,000 fine)
  • 25 lbs. - less than 100 lbs.: Class B felony (mandatory min. five yrs. - max. 20 yrs. and $15,000 fine)
  • 100 lbs. - less than 500 lbs.: Class A felony (mandatory min. six yrs. - max. 30 yrs. and $15,000 fine)



(Possess w/intent to Deliver)



  • 14 g or less: Class A misdemeanor (max. one yr., $2,500 fine)
  • 14 g or less AND 4 or more prior convictions: Class D felony (max. six yrs., $10,000 fine)
  • More than 14 g - less than 4 oz.: Class D felony (max. six yrs., $10,000)
  • 4 oz. - less than 25 lbs.: Class C felony (mandatory min. six yrs. - max. 10 yrs. and $10,000 fine)
  • 25 lbs. - less than 100 lbs.: Class B felony (mandatory min. five yrs. - max. 20 yrs. and $15,000 fine)
  • 100 lbs. - less than 500 lbs.: Class A felony (mandatory min. six yrs. - max. 30 yrs. and $15,000 fine)

Note: The code provides for an increased penalty of 10 years in prison, if the offender is within 1000 ft. of a school, depending on the amount and circumstances.



500 lbs. or more (presumption of intent to traffic): Class Y felony (10 yrs. - 40 yrs., or life and $15,000 fine)

Is Medical Marijuana Legal?

In 2016, voters approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, (Amendment 98) as an amendment to the state constitution. This amendment legalized marijuana for medical use in Arkansas for 18 qualifying conditions and allowed for the establishment and regulation of marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Qualifying medical conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • PTSD
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health

For the most updated information, speak with an attorney or contact the Arkansas Department of Health.

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the enactment of new statutes or as the result of a higher court's ruling. It may be necessary to contact an Arkansas drug crimes attorney or conduct independent legal research to verify a particular state's law(s).

A Broad Breakdown of the Issues

As of 2023, Arkansas is one of 38 states, in addition to several U.S. territories, which allows for medical use for certain conditions. Each state determines what medicinal uses are qualified as legitimate. In 2022, voters in Arkansas voted down a ballot referendum that would have decriminalized recreational possession and use of the drug

Issue 4, also known as the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, was under consideration on this ballot. As a constitutional amendment, it would have changed the state constitution to permit recreational use of the drug. Arkansas voters voted against amending the constitution.

Like most other states, Arkansas does not punish people as severely for marijuana offenses as they do for those involving other illegal drugs in the same federal classification. Penalties for possession and use of heroin or methamphetamines carry heavier penalties. As controlled substances, these hard drugs are more heavily criminalized.

More on Medicinal and Recreational Use

Medical cannabis is a standard for certain varieties of medical care in the state. Qualifying patients, such as those with one of several chronic conditions, may obtain a certification for using marijuana. They may use cannabis to ease the symptoms of those illnesses. 

Since 2016, medical marijuana programs in the state have allowed patients to obtain certifications for cannabis. Doctors issuing such certifications must be currently licensed and hold a DEA license to prescribe controlled substances. The Arkansas Department of Health administers the Medical Marijuana Program. Recreational marijuana remains illegal.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission regulates the issuance and distribution of licenses to dispensaries in the state. You can learn more about the Commission by visiting their website. Under the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA), licensed dispensaries may distribute medical marijuana. One of the processes dispensary owners must undergo is a criminal background check. 

At dispensaries, they may provide all regulated varieties of marijuana, including edibles. Patients who use the dispensaries must provide a copy of their driver's license, as well as a certification from their doctor, in order to obtain cannabis. The process to obtain a Medical Marijuana ID Card is detailed on the Arkansas Department of Health website.  

Research the Law

Review the following resources for more information on laws in Arkansas and other laws related to marijuana use:

Arkansas Marijuana Laws: Related Resources

Review these other additional resources to learn even more:

Learn More About Arkansas Marijuana Laws by Speaking to an Attorney

Laws surrounding marijuana use, either for recreational or medical purposes, change constantly. It's important to have the most up-to-date information if you or someone you love is being charged with a crime or is interested in using marijuana for qualifying medical conditions.

Speak with an experienced drug crime attorney near you to learn more about Arkansas marijuana laws and how they apply to your situation.

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