LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Some state lawmakers want Arkansas to take more time before making medical marijuana available to the public.
A bill made it through committee today that would delay creation of the rules for dispensaries and growers and push back the date for accepting license applications.
“I have not heard one single person, anywhere, that objects to that,” said State Representative Douglas House (R-North Little Rock). “This is good for everybody.”
House Bill 1026, which Rep. House authored, earned a “do pass” recommendation from the House Select Committee on Rules Wednesday afternoon. It gives the members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission an extra 60 days to create rules for marijuana growers and dispensaries and an extra 30 days before groups can apply for licenses.
“And they’re deliberating, and their people act in good faith, they’re making solid decisions, and I have no criticism of that,” Rep. House said.
But, he thinks they need more time than they were given in the amendment voters passed in November.
HB 1026 would also align the commission’s work with July 1, which is the first day of the state’s fiscal year. House knows that the state would have to wait another month to get the revenue from licenses, as well as tax dollars from patients, but he believes the delay would save some money, too.
“If you started it in the 11th month of this fiscal year you’re gonna spend a lot of money creating a whole system of accountability, which is what the government does, and then immediately tear it down, and the recreate that whole system again,” he explained.
While he believed the commissioners should have additional time, House does not want to tell them what to do.
“They’re working well,” he stated. “We, in the Legislature, could pass something today, but that’s not the way it’s set up. The Commission should make it, should do it administratively and if you make a mistake, and mistakes are going to be made along the way, then they can correct it overnight. If the legislature does all this, it’s two years before we can correct a mistake.”
Rep. House mentioned transparency as one reason for his confidence in the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, and believes that with some additional time, its members will make the right decisions for the state.
“The answers are there, in 26 other states,” he added. “It’s just a matter of which wheel we want to choose. We don’t have to reinvent it.”
A companion bill, House Bill 1058, also passed through the same committee on Wednesday. House wrote it to take pressure off doctors, who are expected, based on the wording of the amendment, to prescribe marijuana for patients in opposition of federal law.
“There are a lot of opinions, ranging from, you know, a couple of drops of this every two hours, and so on and so forth, to ‘keep smoking until you feel better,’" House said. "I mean, that’s the literal prescriptions that you can find across the country and they range from very, very competent to terrible. And so, all we’re asking the physicians to do is say, yes, this person has cancer. Yes, this person has multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s Disease.”
Both bills are expected to reach the floor of the House of Representatives next week.