The Arkansas Democrat reports

LaRee Treece of Little Rock received a medical marijuana card as soon as dispensaries started opening throughout the state in May 2019, but the cost of the dosage to treat her fibromyalgia is too much sometimes.

Patients like Treece pay more for the drug — which isn’t covered by insurance — than it costs in several other states in which medical marijuana is legal.

“I sometimes have to do without going to the grocery store in order to afford my medicine,” she said.

Medical marijuana patients and advocates say the drug can cost as much as $400 per ounce, or $50 per eighth-ounce. One gram at an Arkansas dispensary usually costs about $14, according to WeedMaps, a website that compares marijuana prices nationwide.

The use of cannabis varies from patient to patient, said Melissa Fults, executive director of Arkansans for Cannabis Reform, but she uses less than the average patient because an ounce lasts about a month and an eighth lasts about a week for her.

“For most people, it will only last a couple days,” she said. “If you’re smoking it, it goes a lot quicker.” Not all Arkansans who would benefit from using medical marijuana can afford it, but the structure of the market is determined by Amendment 98 to the state Constitution, approved by voters in November 2016.

The amendment allows for a maximum of 40 medical marijuana dispensaries, spread evenly throughout eight geographic zones established by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

Currently 32 dispensaries are open, and six more will open this year. The commission decided in December not to issue the final two licenses, which would have added a fifth dispensary to both west-central and southwestern Arkansas.

Amendment 98 allowed eight marijuana cultivation facilities to supply dispensaries with most of their product. Five are currently operational, and the other three, which received their licenses last summer, are expected to open this year.

The amendment did not provide for any market oversight regarding prices, and the state Department of Finance and Administration had assumed cannabis prices would become more competitive as dispensaries gradually opened over the past two years, department spokesman Scott Hardin said.

“At the point we have 38 dispensaries and eight cultivators open, that’s the point when we can determine the health of Arkansas’ medical marijuana market,” he said.