Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment

Jonesboro Police Department Chief Rick Elliott, along with the Jonesboro City Attorney’s Office, has published guidelines for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. This list was sent to all JPD Officers on Friday, May 31, and is to be used to guide police action in the field.

Please note that these guidelines supersede previous statements made by JPD and the Craighead County Sheriff’s Department.

The email reads as follows:

“I have attached a set of guidelines on dealing with people that you encounter that are in possession of their medical marijuana.  The city attorneys will be attending shift meetings in the near future to answer questions related to this list.

Please keep in mind this list is subject to change, if you encounter a situation that is not covered on this, please let me know so we can get legal guidance on setting up any new procedures.


1.         What is the criminal penalty?

  • There is no criminal penalty set out for the violation of these rules.  However, under §6 of the amendment, a medical marijuana card is an affirmative defense to prosecution for an offense involving marijuana.  Therefore, if the marijuana is not being used or possessed in accordance with these rules, the proper criminal charge is possession of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, etc. 

  • Under Section 3(b)(1) of the amendment, a qualifying patient or designated caregiver is presumed to be lawfully engaging in the medical use of marijuana if they are in actual possession of a registering identification card and possess no more than 2 ½ oz. of usable marijuana.


2.         Who can possess the marijuana?

  • A qualifying patient with a card.

  • A designated caregiver with a card.

  • A visiting qualifying patient with a card or its equivalent from another state that has legalized medical marijuana.

  • Under 21, it must be in edible form.


3.         Must they have the card with them?

  • There is no criminal penalty for not carrying the card, but they lose immunity and maybe charged with possession.


4.         What amount can they possess?

  • 2 ½ oz. of “usable” marijuana.

  • Usable marijuana does not include the weight of any other ingredients combined with the marijuana such as a food or drink.


5.         Must it be packaged?

  • Pursuant to A.C.A. §20-56-304(c) it must be in childproof packaging (even if it is food or drink).

  • Although there is much debate on this subject, there is no law that specifically states it must be carried in a properly labeled container in the way that prescription medication must be carried.


6.         What about paraphernalia?

  • A qualifying patient or caregiver may not be arrested or charged for possessing drug paraphernalia or any other charge stemming from having this or other possession.


7.         Where can they not possess, smoke, or engage in use?

  • A school bus.

  • Grounds of a daycare, preschool, primary or secondary school, college, or university.

  • A drug or alcohol treatment facility.

  • A community or recreation center.

  • A correctional facility.

  • Any form of public transportation.

  • A public place.


8.         Where can they not smoke marijuana?

  • In a place where the smoking of tobacco is prohibited by law.

  • In the presence of a person who is under fourteen (14) years of age.

  • Inside a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorized watercraft, or any vehicle drawn by power other than muscle power.

  • Knowingly in the presence of a pregnant woman.

  • In a place where the smoking of marijuana for medical use is likely to cause another person not authorized to use marijuana to be under the influence of marijuana.

9.         What about DWI/DUI?

  • It is illegal to operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorized watercraft, or any vehicle drawn by power other than muscle power while under the influence of marijuana.


10.       What does this mean if you smell marijuana on a traffic stop?

  • If you smell marijuana on a traffic stop, you still have probable cause to search the vehicle.

  • Less than 2 ½ oz. and no other criminal activity or violations of the rules and they do not have their card – cite them to court to bring their proof.  Give them the closest available court date.  Confiscate the marijuana as evidence for the charge.