Bills On Implementing Medical Marijuana Make Way Through Legislature

FORT SMITH (KFSM)--Several bills on how to implement the state's medical marijuana program are making their way through the legislature.

“It's tough to write state law that is in direct contradiction to federal law, and yet it's allowable so we'll see,” said State Rep. Matt Pitsch (R—Fort Smith).

Sen. Jake Files (R—Fort Smith) opposed medical marijuana in the November 2016 election, but he recently voted against a senate committee bill attempting to ban smoking medical marijuana anywhere in Arkansas.

“It was very clear that this is what the people voted on, and I think it's important that we try to stay as true as we can to what the people voted on,” Sen. Files said.

The bill came close to making its way to the senate floor, but in the end it did not pass.

“There were a couple groups for it,” he explained. “One was for the ban on smoking just because they didn't want anything to do with marijuana. They're trying to tailor it as narrowly as possible, and there was a group that didn't want just the bad influence on kids.”

There is similar legislation that just passed the house that would ban smoking medical marijuana where tobacco is not allowed. That now heads to the senate for consideration.

Right now, members of the house are being introduced to a bill that deals with banning dispensaries from selling edible marijuana.

“It's in a committee,” said State Rep. Pitsch. "It will be heard by a committee [this week] before it'll come out to the house floor."

Meanwhile, the senate will soon vote on a bill passed through the house earlier this month. It would levy an extra four percent tax on the sale of marijuana. The bill was approved in the house 77 to 2, but Sen. Files said he plans to vote against that bill as well.

“Hopefully we can put a framework in place that over the next couple of years we can really keep it narrowly to the medical marijuana and not need to go to the recreational like some of the other states have done,” he said.

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