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What do I need to know about pot laws in Arkansas?

Some Arkansas residents mistakenly believe that marijuana is now legal in the state, but you can still get busted for its recreational use. It's important to understand that distinction, as last year, Arkansas voters passed a referendum allowing the use of marijuana as treatment for certain conditions.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, or Issue 6 as it was often called, was added to the state's constitution. Its passage paved the way for establishing and regulating cultivation facilities and dispensaries that sold the plant to patients suffering from 17 specific conditions, including those listed below:

  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS positive status
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Tourette's snydrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Severe arthritis
  • Alzheimer's disease

Because Arkansas officials recognize that marijuana does have legitimate uses for managing the symptoms of the above disorders, its use and possession is not regarded as a serious drug offense as being found in possession of hard drugs like methamphetamine or heroin.

The courts, too, have some latitude when assessing punishments for those caught with it who do not qualify under the medical criteria. However, it is still possible to wind up with a one-year jail sentence just for possessing small amounts of pot.

Dealers still on police radar

Arkansas courts still impose the mandatory minimum prison sentences for those caught possessing or selling larger amounts of marijuana. Below are the penalties you could face.

  • First offense possession of less than 4 oz.: Class A misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year of jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
  • Possession of 1-4 oz. and subsequent convictions: Class D felonies, with possible prison time up to six years and/or a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of 4 oz. to 10 lbs.: No more than six years prison time and/or a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of 10-25 lbs.: A mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years, not to exceed 10 years, and a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of 25-100 lbs.: Mandatory minimum prison sentences of five years, not to exceed 20 years, and a $15,000 fine.
  • Possession of 100-500 lbs.: Mandatory minimum prison term of six years, not to exceed 30 years, and a $15,000 fine.

Of course, penalties for the sale and distribution of marijuana and marijuana trafficking bring even stiffer penalties. Your criminal defense attorney can advise as to the viability of plea agreements in such cases.

Source: FindLaw, "Arkansas Marijuana Laws," accessed Sept. 1, 2017

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