Lower prices, higher supply of medical marijuana in Oklahoma pulls patients across the border for products.
Sharing a border with another state with medical marijuana has affected sales in Arkansas.
In Poteau, Okla., the LeFlore County seat, there are more than five times the number of legal growers than in the whole state of Arkansas.
Arkansas and Oklahoma have both legalized use of medical cannabis in recent years, but between the two states, the laws are slightly different. Oklahoma has over 200,000 medical marijuana patients while Arkansas sits lower with only a little over 40,000 as of this week.
This is because to become a medical marijuana cardholder, patients must have a certain disability or illness that the Arkansas Department of Health has deemed suitable. In Oklahoma there are no requirements someone must meet. All they need is a referral from a physician.
The prices in Arkansas are much higher than that of Oklahoma. If someone were to purchase a gram of medical cannabis in Arkansas they would be paying double the amount than they would if they were in Oklahoma. A gram in Oklahoma costs about $10 depending on the quality, but a gram of that same quality would be $20 in Arkansas.
Storm Nolan, a local hotel executive and medical marijuana advocate, said that getting a temporary license for Oklahoma could be a better option. A temporary license allows an individual with a medical license from another state to legally buy, use, and grow medical marijuana in Oklahoma. A license will cost the patient $100 and be valid for 30 days. A temporary card for Arkansas is only $50, but the price for cannabis is higher.
Wesley Bunn, a former dispensary worker in Oklahoma, said that temporary license holders from Arkansas came in frequently. He added that they typically complained about the prices, strictness of the laws, and even the unwelcome environment that they felt when purchasing the product in their home state.
Nolan attributed the prices to the small amount of cultivation facilities and dispensaries in the state. Currently there are only five cultivation facilities and 16 dispensaries. In Poteau, Okla., alone there are 27 licensed growers. He said that with more dispensaries and growers the price will go down and the number of patients will rise. The negative aspect of harder-to-obtain medical marijuana causes some to seek cannabis through other means like black market sales. This leaves patients without a safer and regulated option.
Since opening their first dispensary, medical marijuana sales have surpassed over $40 million in Arkansas. This happened in the first ten months. In Oklahoma, sales reached over $258 million in the same time span. Oklahoma has surpassed Arkansas in business and because of this, patients are more likely to take their business one state over for better prices on product. Only time will tell how far Arkansas is willing to go when it comes to growing their medical marijuana business. This will either include amendments to the laws making it easier for patients to obtain cards, adding more facilities, or both.