Patients in Arkansas spent more than $28 million on medical marijuana during the first 7.5 months of trading.

Voters approved Issue 6 to legalize medical cannabis use in November 2016 and the first dispensary opened its doors in May 2019. There are now 14 dispensaries in operation and they sold $28.13 million worth of marijuana in the 2019 calendar year, according to new figures from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

In total Arkansans bought more than 4,200 pounds of medical marijuana in 2019. The clear market leader was Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, which sold its 1,000th pound of cannabis on Dec. 23.

It was comfortably ahead of the second busiest dispensary, Releaf Center in Bentonville, which sold 500 pounds during 2019. Some dispensaries only opened in December, so their sales totals were minimal, suggesting strong growth potential for the state next year.

Green Springs Medical owner Dragan Vicentic began selling one rotating marijuana product for $5 per gram in November in a bid to beat the thriving black market. “This is just one of those things where we say we’re going to sell one item at cost [price, taking no mark-up], we just say we’re going to give back to the people that got us here,” said Vicentic.

The state has issued 32 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and another two should open imminently in Texarkana, taking the total to 16. More will open throughout 2020 – two have promised to open in Little Rock soon, as the city currently has no dispensaries – and sales should increase significantly compared to 2019.

The $28.13 million in sales appears paltry compared to the market leader, California, where sales are estimated at $3 billion for 2019. However, Arkansas is a small state by population and it only permits medical sales.

There is a ballot initiative filed by William Barger that seeks to put the issue of recreational marijuana legalization to Arkansas voters in 2020. The petition must gain at least 89,151 signatures if the measure is to be placed on next year’s ballot and there is a deadline of July 3 for the signatures to be gathered.

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