LITTLE ROCK — The state Department of Health said Monday it will begin accepting applications for medical-marijuana registry identification cards on June 30.


The cards will allow patients or caregivers to purchase medical marijuana at licensed dispensaries. No dispensaries have yet been licensed by the state, but the state Medical Marijuana Commission said previously it will begin accepting applications for licenses to operate dispensaries or cultivation centers on June 30.


The Health Department said Wednesday in a news release it will begin issuing registry identification cards to patients and caregivers about 30 days before medical marijuana becomes available for legal purchases in the state, which is likely to be early next year.


Applications will be available online at healthy.arkansas.gov or in paper form from the Health Department. The application process includes a requirement that the patient or caregiver obtain a written certification from a doctor that the patient has a qualifying health condition. The certification must be on an official Health Department form.


Other requirements include a nonrefundable $50 fee and a copy of a valid Arkansas driver’s license or other official Arkansas state-issued identification. The medical-marijuana card will include the photo of the qualifying patient or caregiver.


Application must be submitted directly to the Health Department by the patient or caregiver and not through a third party.


The cards must be renewed at least annually, so waiting until the product is available for legal purchase to issue the cards ensures the patient can use the card the maximum amount of time before it has to be renewed, the Health Department said.


The $50 fee must be paid every time a card is renewed. A card may be subject to a shorter renewal time if specified by the patient’s doctor.


The agency noted that possession of marijuana is still illegal in the state unless purchased from a licensed dispensary by a card holder.