Here in Arkansas, medical marijuana sales have skyrocketed to reach record numbers across the state. According to reports, profits from the sales are extending far beyond just dispensaries and growers, as high state tax revenue is being utilized to better serve the community.

While it took three years since medical marijuana was legalized in 2016, the first dispensary made more than 30 million dollars within one year of opening its doors. In total, medical marijuana sales have now amassed more than $1 billion to date. At this time, Arkansas food insecurity efforts are greatly benefiting from the new stream of sales tax.

Spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission, Scott Hardin, stated, “A billion dollars has been spent to purchase medical marijuana, but what that means for the state is that we’ve collected 115 million dollars in state tax revenue. From that, $115… $87 went to UAMS specifically as they tried to obtain that National Cancer Institute designation.” He continued, “Now there’s a change. Now that funding is going to go specifically to food insecurity.” Reports show that those funds are presently being evenly distributed to schools throughout Arkansas.

Hardin said, “What that’ll mean is, if someone is on a reduced school lunch, if they are now paying 50 cents to a dollar, that medical marijuana revenue steps in and pays that to ensure that a student gets that for free.” The spokesperson for the commission continued, “So really, students in the state will not have to pay whatever that burden is. Fifty cents, a $1.50 to have reduced school lunch, so it really is affecting Arkansans in a positive way.”

The astronomical profits that continue to grow have residents surprised, but even with more than $1 billion in sales, that is just the tip of the industry’s potential. As of right now, these recorded profits stem from only eight medical marijuana growers whose products are sold in just 38 dispensaries across the state. Reports show these numbers are not stymieing purchase success, and there are no signs of a slowdown coming anytime soon.

Spokesperson Hardin said, “Unless something changes, unless voters go back to the polls and either accept a modified program or a recreational program or something, that’s really where we are.” He added, “In the industry itself, you’re not going to see more dispensaries opening up all over the state. You’re not going to see more growers, but what we are seeing is more patients. At the beginning of the year, we had 89 thousand patients.” Hardin concluded, saying, “Now we are pushing 100 thousand.” With an influx of patients amid no additional medical marijuana stores, many are left to wonder if the high tax revenue stream will continue into the future.

As of November, a total of 257 million dollars has already been spent on medical marijuana products throughout 2023, according to reported figures. The volume of sales, profits, and subsequent state tax revenue are expected to establish a new annual income record before 2024.