Police Officers Prepare For Changes Following Medical Marijuana Legalization

FORT SMITH (KFSM)—Law enforcement is preparing to make some changes now that voters passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as Issue 6.

“I was kind of expecting that, yes, it would pass,” said Sgt. Doug Brooks. "We knew it would be close one way or the other."

Sgt. Brooks works in the narcotics unit at the Fort Smith Police Department. He said now that voters have passed Issue 6, it does raise some legal concern, as well as being a public safety concern.

“It’s much like alcohol,” he said. “Alcohol is legal. However, if you’re under the influence of alcohol, you’re not supposed to drive around. I would imagine marijuana is going to be much the same way.”

While he doesn’t think the legalization of medical marijuana will make a huge difference in how the department operates, he said how they regulate it will likely come from the statute itself. Officers are also working closely with the prosecuting attorney’s office.

“We’ve seen other states how they're dealing with their marijuana laws, and a lot of our guidance will probably come from them also,” Sgt. Brooks said.

He said even if a doctor prescribes marijuana to a patient, at the end of the day, it’s all about responsibility.

“With it being so new, we'll have to see how it develops over a period of time,” he said.

Sgt. Brooks said since the issue was also close when it was up for a vote in 2012, medical marijuana is something police have had on their radar for some time.

He said they will continue working with the prosecutor’s office as the law goes into effect.