Arkansas medical cannabis sales topped $175M in 2020, on-track to double in 2021

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Last year, the medical cannabis industry in Arkansas hit new highs (excuse the pun.) Based on state-released data, sales of the green plant in its medicinal form crept up to $175 million in 2020, with the year finishing up at a milestone $1.22 million in daily sales.

The first medical cannabis dispensary in Arkansas opened its doors almost a year and a half ago. Since that time, a whopping 30,648 pounds of the plant has been sold to customers, who have forked out $200.7 million on medical cannabis products.

The future looks even brighter for Arkansas’ medical cannabis market, which is being fueled by new products like edibles and vapes. In fact, Marijuana Business Factbook analysts anticipate that the state’s legal medical cannabis market will generate between $300 million-$365 million this year. 

Plus, since Arkansas recently opened up licensing opportunities for cannabis processors and transporters, patients will gain greater access to the plant moving forwards; improved access translates to increased sales.

Dispensaries sold 26,000 pounds of medical cannabis in Arkansas last year 

The year 2020 was a successful year for the medical cannabis industry in Arkansas. During an interview with Arkansas Public Radio, Medical Marijuana Commission spokesman Scott Hardin confirmed that the state’s licensed dispensaries had sold 26,000 pounds of product last year. 

These sales figures are impressive, considering the fact that Arkansas’ medical cannabis market which initially launched in May 2019 started 2020 with less than 10 dispensaries. By the year’s end, the dispensary count rose to 32. 

Hardin, who is also affiliated with the Arkansas Department of Finance, says that last year’s success was significantly greater than analysts had anticipated. To put things into perspective, the industry saw a 900 percent increase since 2019.

“Overall Arkansasans spent over $200 million since that first dispensary opened, but if you are just looking at 2020 alone, we are looking at 180 million dollars,” said Hardin, who recently told MJBiz Daily reporters that six new licensed retailers are striving to open their doors any day now.

COVID-19 pandemic an influential factor in Arkansas’ medical cannabis sales surge

While analysts may have felt concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic would dent Arkansas’ medical cannabis sales, the truth is actually quite different. In fact, Hardin believes that the coronavirus pandemic has actually stimulated sales. He attributes the industry’s sustained success to the adapting buying behavior of consumers, who are stocking up and panic-buying their medicine.

“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said everyone needs to have a two week supply of all medication. It looks like to us quite a few people did that,” says Hardin. “In state taxes, you can take 10.5 percent and that is what the state is going to be collecting, so roughly $20 million overall collected.”

Stimulus payments have also influenced medical cannabis sales in Arkansas, according to Jordan Mooney the manager of a Fort Smith-based dispensary called Fort Cannabis Co. 

“We noticed a sharp day of sales when those payments were said to be going out,” Mooney told reporters.