LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- HB1451 passed in the Arkansas House Thursday. It restricts military members from becoming designated medical marijuana caregivers in Arkansas.
The new medical marijuana amendment allows people ages 21 and older to become designated medical marijuana caregivers but this new legislation seeks to clarify that cannot ever include military members. Designated caregivers are meant to handle and distribute medical marijuana to qualifying patients who are disabled or under the age of 18. The bill's co-sponsor, Representative Douglas House, said federal law prevents military members from serving in that capacity.
“Possession of a controlled substance and the authority to handle weapons and explosives and things like that creates a tension that the army, air force, and all the military services are not real comfortable with,” said House.
House also mentioned that some people from the medical marijuana community, who are not involved in the military, have expressed concerns about the bill.
“We understand their concerns but the military is an entirely difference society than the American society as a whole,” said House. “You give up a lot of rights when you go into the military.”
Lieutenant Colonel Keith Moore, Public Affairs Officer for the Arkansas National Guard, said this bill is important because it confirms what federal law already says.
“The law prohibits the use and possession of marijuana for military members,” said Moore. “If you are a caregiver, you would be in possession of marijuana, which is a controlled substance."
Moore says the bill will make sure all military members understand their rights and expectations. He believes the bill makes the law absolutely clear with no grey area. Moore also addressed concerns regarding single parents in the military who might wish to serve as medical marijuana caregivers for their children. He said that while it is a difficult situation, the law still stands and someone else needs to have that role.
“Those are very unique circumstances and that's when some serious decisions have to be made about their military career and taking care of the family members,” said Moore.
Now that the bill has passed through the House, it heads to a Senate committee for review.