Although the southern United States is not known for favoring recreational cannabis legalization, medical programs in the South have been gaining traction. With each year of consideration and action, state legalization and licensing evolve. Below is updated information about cannabis business licensing in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Arkansas
On the first of August 2023, a new law took effect in Arkansas that clarified whether medical marijuana patients may obtain concealed carry licenses for firearms. This legislation stipulates that a person’s status as a qualified medical cannabis patient in the state cannot be used “in determining whether an applicant is eligible to be issued a license to carry a concealed handgun.” Further, the Arkansas statute has also been amended to clarify that participation in the medical marijuana program doesn’t indicate whether a person is a chronic or habitual user of a controlled substance, as this notation would otherwise disqualify people from obtaining the concealed carry permit. The state Department of Health (DOH) will be barred from disclosing patient status to state police as part of any investigation into eligibility of concealed carry.
Regarding Arkansas cannabis business licensing, the application fee for a dispensary license is set at $7,500, and applicants must provide proof of assets or a surety bond in the amount of $200,000 and proof of at least $100,000 in liquid assets. An Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary is defined as an entity licensed by the Medical Marijuana Commission to acquire, manufacture, process, transport, supply and dispense medical marijuana to qualifying patients and caregivers. No more than one dispensary license shall be issued to any entity. No new licenses are currently being issued.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Louisiana
Mid-June saw the governor of Louisiana signing off on a bill that streamlined expungements for people with first-time marijuana possession convictions. Persons convicted of possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis as a first offense may now petition the courts to wipe their records after 90 days from the time of the conviction. The previous waiting period for expungement petitioning was at least five years. This update aims to speed up the process. The associated fees are set at $300 for the record clearing, and a template has been created to modernize the procedure.
Cannabis business licensing in Louisiana is currently on hold, with no published plans for upcoming open dates.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Oklahoma
Early August saw argument hearings by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice John Kane in a case challenging a recently passed Oklahoma law that increases medical cannabis licensing fees in the state. The plaintiffs, Jed Green, founder of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, and three companies, claim the increases are unconstitutional as the law is a revenue-raising measure, but lawmakers did not follow the rules governing their passage. Under the new law, annual fees are assessed through a tiered licensing program that ranges from the current fee of $2,500 to more than $50,000.
William Flanagan, assistant solicitor general for Attorney General Gentner Drummond, argued that the bill is not a revenue-raising measure but instead, the fees are being used for regulatory purposes. “The rapid expansion of the industry has provided opportunities for organized crime, and the boom has made it difficult for regulators to keep up,” the state said in its response to the lawsuit. “To address the oversupply of marijuana in the State, the legislature enacted House Bill 2179 to raise some of Oklahoma’s uniquely low licensing fees to a level in line with that of other states.”
Oklahoma cannabis business licensing is in a moratorium, which began August 26, 2022, for new dispensary, grower and processor licenses. HB 3208 (2022), passed by the Oklahoma legislature and signed by the governor, put the moratorium in place. HB 2095 (2023), also passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, extended the moratorium end date to August 1, 2026.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Texas
Cannabis business licensing in Texas just closed in late April 2023. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regulatory Services Division (RSD) accepted new applications for Compassionate Use Program (CUP) dispensing organization licenses. Previous applicants were invited to reapply with updated application forms for waived fees. The department plans to issue only the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to, and the availability of, low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the Compassionate Use registry. As of August 2023, there were 63,716 patients listed on the Texas Compassionate Use registry.
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CannaCon originally published this article July 24, 2019. It was updated Sept. 12, 2023.