Marijuana Laws in Arkansas
There are states which have a lenient approach to marijuana use and possession and then there are other states that are much more strident. Arkansas falls into the latter category. Currently, the state does not allow for any medical marijuana use. Additionally, if you are found to be in possession of an amount of marijuana that is greater than one ounce or 28 grams it is assumed by the law that you intend to sell that pot and you are charged and convicted accordingly.
Just because you might have under one ounce of marijuana in your possession doesn’t mean you’ll be off the hook. According to Arkansas marijuana laws, you can still be prosecuted for possessing even a small amount of marijuana.
Even with that strict approach, the DEA estimates that there is an annual Arkansas marijuana crop yield that is worth up to one billion dollars. The Department of Justice finds that there are around 2,000 arrests for the possession, selling, and growing of marijuana in Arkansas.
Recent Changes to Marijuana Laws in Arkansas
Marijuana laws in Arkansas have recently been amended, providing more relaxed restrictions on the substance. In 2016, Amendment 98 became law which allowed for the legal usage of marijuana with a medical prescription. This amendment opened up access to marijuana-derived medications as well as allowed individuals to cultivate and possess certain amounts of cannabis.
Since then, further changes in Arkansas’s marijuana law have occurred. In 2019, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Act 593 into law which expanded the medical use of cannabis products for a wider range of conditions including chronic pain, PTSD, and nausea among others. This new act also allows for dispensaries to be licensed and regulated by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration. Additionally, patients are now able to purchase a 30-day supply of medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries rather than just an 8-day supply as was previously allowed under Amendment 98.
Arkansas Marijuana Penalties
The first time a person in Arkansas is arrested, charged, and convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana it is considered a misdemeanor. This could result in a jail sentence of up to one year plus a $1,000 fine. For a second conviction of less than an ounce, the charge becomes a felony. This carries with is up to six years in jail and a $10,000 fine. For a third-time conviction, you’re still in felony territory, but now you’re looking at anywhere between 3 to 10 years in jail with a $10,000 fine. That’s all for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Once you have been arrested with more than an ounce of marijuana in Arkansas, you are presumed to be selling or trafficking. An amount that is more than one ounce but less than ten pounds is considered a felony and carries a possible jail sentence of 4 to 10 years with a $25,000 fine. Being caught with ten to one hundred pounds of marijuana in Arkansas can yield anywhere from five to 20 years in prison with a $50,000 fine. With over ten pounds of marijuana, you’re looking at six to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
If you are arrested with any amount of marijuana above a single ounce within 1,000 feet of a school there will be additional penalties tacked onto your conviction. This will mean a mandatory five extra years added to your sentence.
How much weed is a felony in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, possession of fewer than 4 ounces (113 grams) of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor. Possession of more than 4 ounces is considered a felony. Depending on the amount, the felony can be classified as either a class D or class C felony. A class D felony carries a prison sentence of up to 6 years and/or fines of up to $10,000. A class C felony carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or fines of up to $15,000. Additionally, possession of any amount with intent to distribute is considered a felony regardless of the quantity possessed.
It’s important to note that Arkansas has some of the most stringent laws in the country when it comes to marijuana possession and distribution. Penalties for drug-related felonies are often much harsher than in other states and can have long-term consequences even after serving jail time or paying fines.
Additional Arkansas Marijuana Penalties
Any marijuana conviction in Arkansas results in a six-month license suspension. You can also be charged with a misdemeanor and face one year in jail if you are in possession of anything that is considered marijuana paraphernalia. When you have a felony conviction with the added possession of paraphernalia charge, you can expect up to 3 to 10 years to be added to your sentence.
For first-time offenders, Arkansas allows for conditional release. This will require some form of a probationary period where the offender might be subjected to drug testing or random visits by parole officers.
Arkansas marijuana laws are in a period of flux. The medical marijuana program is still very new and the laws governing recreational use are still being debated. While the state does not currently permit recreational marijuana use, there is strong public support for a change in policy. It is likely that Arkansas will join many other states in legalizing some level of recreational marijuana use in the near future.