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High demand for medical marijuana causes shortage in Arkansas

Patients are struggling to find medical marijuana in Arkansas during the coronavirus pandemic.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — There are several questions in both Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley regarding medical marijuana dispensaries and the struggle to meet the needs of Arkansans.

Patient Carla Thompson says if medical marijuana doesn't become more available in Arkansas she may have to go to Oklahoma.

“Like right now I'm almost out so tomorrow I will probably have to go online and search around and try to find somewhere that has something,” Thompson said.

Thompson and many other patients say finding access to the medicine they need is almost impossible. She says her local dispensary, Fort Cannabis Company, struggles to keep its shelves full of any strain.

“Mostly from just anything we ran completely out of flower for two weeks now,” said Fort Cannabis Manager Alisha.

Alisha said the amount they order from their cultivators often doesn't show up in full.

“We need this many pounds and they will send us half that sometimes,” Alisha said.

And when they get a shipment, it's gone fast.

“With them being the only one in Sebastian County when they do get a supply in the line is wrapped around the building,” Thompson said.

Acanza and Releaf Center in Northwest Arkansas both face the same problem.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commissioner Travis Story says there are plenty of flowers out there.

“It seems that there is supply in the product available in the system and so that’s kind of the responsibility of the individual dispensaries,” Story said.

Story says as of July, three cultivators were fully functional and two were still harvesting and preparing to ship production. The commission has approved licenses for three additional cultivation facilities. 

While the reason for shortages remains up in the air, the issue is clear, patients can't get their medication.

It's a problem Thompson says she's tired of driving up to 100 miles to Conway or Little Rock. She says if something doesn't change, she might have to take her business across the Oklahoma border with a temporary license.

“Where I live that’s just about 5 or 10 miles away, I'm close to Pocola and the Roland border so that’s what I'm thinking about doing,” Thompson said. “People are spending money in Oklahoma, why not have the money here in Arkansas where we need it instead of taking the money out of state somewhere else."