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It is not as much a wild prediction as it is a future stated fact. When prescription pot sales flourish, can recreational pot sales be far behind? Of course not.

And not just in Colorado, California and other western states. Arkansas soon, despite all the naysayers, will be either voting by another initiated act, or perhaps from the Arkansas General Assembly itself, to allow the sale of recreational marijuana.

There is just too much money in it, folks, to say "No." It is that plain and simple.

Now that is not to say that the state of Arkansas, with more than half of its counties dry of alcohol, will not limit the recreational pot sales centers to the counties that want the sales.

And thus, Arkansas will allow those counties, cities, townships and other government subdivisions within the state to deny the application or establishment, or to allow the sale of facilities that will, in the very near future, sell recreational pot.

That, too, I predict will happen.

And it might not be such a pretty sight to see.

It has been said much about the making of whole hog sausage and of legislation in Arkansas: "It is not so pretty a sight to behold."

I am sure those future laws, if not placed in an initiated act and voted on by all the voters in a November election (just like the passage of prescription pot more than two years ago), will be done in a very contentious session of the Arkansas Legislature.

If I were a legislator, I would hope that any initiated act would at least set some very broad rules in which, as a member of the legislature, I might "tweak" the overall act.

The opening days of the first sales of prescription pot were, to put it plainly, confusing but profitable.

The two Hot Springs dispensaries -- Green Springs Medical and Doctor's Orders RX -- were said to have sold 13.76 pounds of dried cannabis flower, according to some frustrating reports from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

With the publicized price of $15 per gram, those sales would have exceeded $93,000.

To put this in perspective -- there are 453.6 grams in a pound of marijuana. At $15 per gram, a pound of prescription pot would cost $6,804. The state's largest newspaper quoted an Arkansas police spokesman (note that it did not say State Police spokesman) that the average street sale of marijuana was $4 per gram or less.

But those street sales are illegal and also are not certified to be pure as the state-licensed growers and dispensaries guarantee.

The average transaction on the first days of prescription pot was about $79.62 per customer, the state said.

The state does -- and listen to this, Mr. and Mrs. Voter -- collect the state sales tax of (6.5 percent) on every sale and then the state imposes a 4% privilege tax on prescription pot sales.

The $212.62 sale, with taxes of $20.25 comes to $232.90.

The good news, once sales start, both the dispensaries and the state expect the price to drop from $17 per gram to about $10 per gram. The current price in Oklahoma for its prescription pot is about $10 a gram.

Remember, the state has sales tracking software in all the dispensaries to ensure that no one on prescription pot can purchase more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks, the limit under state law.

Arkansas' program, approved two years ago, made Arkansas the 33rd state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. There are 18 qualifying conditions that patients must meet before a medical marijuana card can be issued by the state and those come from a referral by a physician.

As of last week, there were 11,739 state-issued medical marijuana registry ID cards in force.

Now do the math. If just half of these 11,739 card holders bought one-half ounce, once a month, how will the sales taxes and medical prescription pot sales taxes roll on down to the state capitol?

Recreational pot is coming. Prescription pot is here to stay.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 05/29/2019

Print Headline: 'Rx pot' prices soar; 'recreational weed' will soon be in state

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