On Monday, January 30, 2017, Arkansas state legislators introduced three bills in the House and one in the Senate that, if passed, would drastically impact the smoking of medical marijuana pursuant to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (the “Amendment”).
- House Bill 1391 would allow a city council or quorum court to prohibit cultivation facilities or dispensaries inside its municipality. Under the current Amendment, cities and counties may choose to prohibit cultivation facilities and dispensaries but only by a majority vote of its citizens. In addition, this bill would strike from the Amendment a clause requiring that dispensaries are treated like a licensed retail pharmacy for zoning ordinance purposes. HB 1391 can be found here.
- House Bill 1392 would prohibit the creation of food or drink containing marijuana. Qualifying patients (or their caregivers) would however be permitted to mix marijuana with food or drink to aid in the ingestion of the medical marijuana, if that is required. Other proposed legislation has sought to give the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission the ability to outright ban certain “edibles.” HB 1392 can be found here.
- House Bill 1400 would amend the Amendment to explicitly prohibit the smoking of marijuana in any location in the state. Under the current Amendment, there are no limitations set on exactly how medical marijuana may be consumed. Instead, the current Amendment allows Arkansans, meeting the certifiable medical conditions, to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days from dispensaries stocked from in-state cultivation facilities. HB 1400 can be found here.
- Senate Bill 254 would drop the provision allowing dispensaries to grow a limited number of marijuana plants. Currently, licensed dispensaries are permitted to have 50 mature plants, but they face higher licensing fees and tougher security regulations for the plant growth. SB 254 can be found here.
Passage of any one of these proposed bills would significantly change the use of medical marijuana approved by Arkansas voters with the passage of the Amendment in November 2016. The Mitchell Williams Medical Marijuana Practice Group will continue to track and report on this and similar legislation.
The members of the Mitchell Williams Medical Marijuana Practice Group are Harry Hamlin, Morril Harriman, Jr., Martha Hill, Melissa Bandy, Benjamin Brenner, Courtney Crouch, Meg Johnston, Alan Lewis, Bethany Marshall, Nicole Lovell, Scott Schallhorn, and Mary Catherine Way.