During last year’s November elections, Medicine Man Technologies was happy to see that Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, was passed by slim but definitive 53% of voters. It was set to allow critically ill patients to safely acquire and seek relief from their ailments using medical marijuana approved by their primary care physicians.
Now, in April of 2017, the state’s legislature has passed 24 laws changing what voters approved last year. Each one passed with the required two-thirds vote and 15 of them were sponsored by Republican Representative, Douglas House, who was tasked as the point person for marijuana legislation.
While many of the new laws limit how medical marijuana may be used and who may use it, news outlet KATV reports that the sponsor of the amendment, David Couch, took these changes in stride. “They did some crazy things, but it wasn’t anything that would affect the overall stability or the overall ability to get medicine, marijuana to the patients,” he said.
Here’s a quick round-up of the laws passed affecting the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment:
Act 4: Gives the state 180 days instead of 120 to develop rules and pushes out the date for the Medical Marijuana Commission to accept cultivation and dispensary applications from June 1 to July 1.
Act 5: Because there is no medical standard regarding the effectiveness of marijuana, a patient’s doctor is no longer required to certify that the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks.
Act 479: Bans Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military members from being patients or caregivers, and bans use on all property controlled by those entities.
Act 593: Provides more entitlements for employers such as the ability to enforce a drug-free workplace, including drug testing. Based on “good faith belief” they can take action against an employee for using marijuana during work hours or on-site. Action includes barring employees from certain positions, up to suspension and termination.
Act 638: Rolls the Medical Marijuana Commission, responsible for dispensary and cultivation licensing, into the state’s Department of Finance and Administration.
Act 640: Bans advertising, marketing and packaging that would attract the attention of children. Art, signage and product design will all be subject to scrutiny.
Act 642: Along with licenses for cultivation and dispensaries, there will now be a licensing process required for transporters, distributors and processors.
Act 670: Changes where medical marijuana funds go, funneling them to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Implementation and Operations Fund with any remainder going to a general revenue fund. Previously:
- 50% for grants to technical institutes and vocational-technical schools
- 30% to the state General Revenue Fund
- 10% to the Department of Career Education for workforce training programs
- 5% to the Department of Health
- 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division
- 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division
- 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission
Act 740: Bans smoking medical marijuana in the same areas where tobacco is banned and for anyone under age 21. It’s also banned in the presence of a child under the age of 14, a pregnant woman, in a motor vehicle or anywhere else that it will affect a non-authorized person.
Act 906: Provides more than $4 million for the Medical Marijuana Commission in 2018.
Act 1022: Allows licensed cultivators and dispensaries to import seeds, cuttings, clones and plants.
Act 1023: Bans vending machines and use of marijuana at dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Also requires childproof product packaging. And all food/drink mixes (edibles) must not contain more than 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that provides marijuana’s psychological effects.
Act 1024: Requires all dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist available during operating hours.
Act 1935: Allows public schools to ban students from attendance (including events) if it is believed that they are impaired by medical marijuana.
Changes that failed included acts calling for the delay of medical marijuana legalization in Arkansas until it was legal at the federal level, banning smoking marijuana anywhere in the state, and making it illegal for anyone except patients and caregivers to combine marijuana with food and drink.
As you can see, each victory for marijuana legalization still faces a gauntlet of challenges, which is why Medicine Man Technologies works diligently as an advocate for our clients and the industry as a whole. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment as the implementation phase begins, and we hope to see the state’s lawmakers respect the original ideals approved by voters.
Looking to enter the Arkansas cannabis market? Contact our expert consultants for help. Like our Colorado clients, you’ll face a number of hurdles, and we can help you navigate your way to success.