A sign points to Denver Relief, one of the oldest marijuana dispensaries in Denver, opening their doors in 2009. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is expected to begin accepting dispensary facility license applications July 1. (Vince Chandler, The Denver Post)

Arkansas putting final touches on medical marijuana program

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Board of Health has unanimously approved rules that govern the issuance of marijuana-user registration cards and the labeling and testing of the drug.

A final version of the regulations were submitted to the board on Thursday, after state Department of Heath staff made a few technical changes to draft rules approved in January, the department’s chief attorney, Robert Brech, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Brech said the rules will go to the Legislative Council for permanent approval in May. Under the regulations, applicants will be required to have a driver’s license or another state-issued identification card. Patients under the age of 18 will need the consent of a parent or guardian to obtain a card. The regulations also will allow visitors from other states to use their medical marijuana cards in Arkansas.

Qualifying conditions for a medical-marijuana card include cancer, severe arthritis and Crohn’s disease, along with chronic conditions that cause symptoms such as “intractable pain,” severe nausea or seizures.

Arkansas voters approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment in November, legalizing the possession and sale of medical marijuana in the state.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, created by the amendment, approved rules in April that govern the licensing of marijuana-cultivation facilities and dispensaries. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has approved rules governing those facilities’ operations.

The commission is expected to begin accepting dispensary facility license applications July 1.

The AP reported Monday morning that state lawmakers are returning to Little Rock to adjourn their regular legislative session and begin a special session mainly focused on changes to the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion. The special session’s agenda also includes “technical corrections” to medical marijuana legislation.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com