Marijuana bills defeated in Legislature
Edible products, plants scrutinized
Bills intending to ban manufactured edible medical marijuana products and allow a commission to limit the number of plants grown by dispensaries failed to pass in separate votes Monday in the House and Senate.
The bill to ban manufactured edible products was supported by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. House Bill 1392 was sponsored Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, who said Monday voters approved medical marijuana but authorized lawmakers to guide the program.
“We are the ones that establish the road,” she said. “We’re providing the highway, the lights. This provides the guardrails when it comes to edibles.”
Lundstrum says she was concerned about products tempting to children, such as cookies, brownies, soda or candy. The bill wouldn’t prohibit patients or caregivers from making edible medical marijuana products at home.
HB1392 failed to pass 52-40. A two-thirds vote is required in the House and Senate to amend the Medical Marijuana Amendment, now known as Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution.
The bill was opposed by David Couch, the sponsor of the voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, and Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, who’s organizing medical marijuana bills in the Legislature.
“This is wrong on so many levels,” House said Monday.
The House already had passed a separate bill — House Bill 1370 — requiring the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to develop rules prohibiting product designs — including packaging, shapes and flavors — appealing to children. That bill also would require childproof packaging.
House said HB1370 should take care of concerns regarding children. He said edible products are important because they result in a longer-lasting high, which some patients need to sleep. Homemade recipes are wasteful of product and an invitation for accidents involving children, he said.
He added older patients generally prefer edible products to smoking marijuana.
Rep. Tim Lemons, R-Cabot, spoke against the bill. He voted against the amendment but said going to the CARTI Cancer Center with his wife over the past several weeks affected how he thought about marijuana.
“There’s a real need for this,” he said. Education is key to preventing youth from using the product, he added.
Rep. Deborah Ferguson,
D-West Memphis, said she supported the bill. She said her niece receives marijuana oil through a dropper to control seizures.
“When you talk to doctors in California or Colorado, it’s not smoking pot that people end up in the emergency room,” she said. “It’s from the edibles because there’s such a delayed reaction.”
Children keep popping chocolate or brownies until they overdose, she said.
In the Senate, legislation failed to pass allowing the
Medical Marijuana Commission to decide whether to allow dispensaries to grow up to 50 mature plants.
The Senate’s 17-11 vote on Senate Bill 254 by Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville, fell seven votes of the 24 required for approval in the 35-member Senate. The vote was later expunged to clear the way for another vote.
The Senate also sent the governor HB1051 by House to require the Medical Marijuana Commission to license transporters, distributors and
processors of medical marijuana and HB1298 by House to allow the transfer of a license for dispensaries and cultivation facilities only to a “natural person.”
The Senate also approved HB1370 — which was referred to in the House floor debate and would allow the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to regulate edibles and advertising — in a 30-0 vote.