Since the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment passed in November, we’ve already seen quite a few bills introduced on the subject of MMJ in the state – including two that have already been signed into law, delaying the program and removing a line that required doctors to claim that the benefit of medical marijuana would outweigh the risks, which many healthcare professionals were not comfortable with doing.
However, the latest bills to be considered by the Arkansas Senate Committee on Health, Welfare, and Labor would make much more drastic changes to the law passed by voters. The first, Senate Bill 238, was never fully considered by the committee and luckily will go no further in the process than this.
The bill aimed to postpone the medical marijuana laws from being put into place until the federal prohibition of cannabis was ended – which was looked at by many as attempting to undermine the will of the voters, who undoubtedly at this point wanted medical marijuana to be available in the state sooner rather than later.
Senate Bill 357 is the second bill introduced by Senator Jason Rapert. This one specifically aims to eliminate smoking medical marijuana as well as the sale of infused food and drink products. This change was unfortunately passed, even though arguments were made that some patients need the more immediate relief that smoking medical cannabis provides.
When it comes to edibles, the law would only ban the sale of marijuana infused food and drink – however patients or caregivers could mix cannabis oil, or otherwise mix cannabis into food or drink themselves. The reason for not selling infused edibles? Simply because it can be harder to determine the THC content of edibles, although having any idea through testing would definitely be safer than only allowing the marijuana to be added by the patient or caregiver with less experience than processors of edibles.
This bill will now move on to be heard and voted on by the full Senate where it will require a two-thirds vote in order to move on to the House. From there it would be heard in House committees before being voted on, again requiring a two-thirds vote in order to change the constitutional amendment. From there it would merely need the governor’s signature to become law – and sadly this is not a piece of legislature that those who passed the medical marijuana laws want to see added.