LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Thursday, Senator Jason Rapert filed a bill in the Arkansas Senate that would delay legalizing medical marijuana until marijuana was legalized under federal law.
In November 2016, voters passed Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, with a 53.11 percent voting for the amendment.
Rapert released a statement detailing why he decided to file the bill. His main contention with the amendment was that marijuana is illegal under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 considers marijuana a Schedule I drug which claims it would have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
"When I took office I swore an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and the state of Arkansas. I do not intend to break my oath," Rapert said in the statement.
Rapert said that he's for "the will of the people in Arkansas being heard," but is not up for violating federal law when it comes to medical marijuana. While he will pursue proper medical value of marijuana when it becomes legal, Rapert said he will not support those he said are using medical marijuana as a "charade for easy access."
One reasoning Rapert gave was that Arkansas voters have approved constitutional amendments to ban abortions and define marriage as between one woman and one man and were struck down due to a conflict with United States law. In 2004, voters overwhelmingly voted that marriage should be defined as happening between one man and one woman but was overturned in 2014 by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza.
The last time voters were allowed to vote on a proposed amendment regarding abortion was in 1988. Voters approved an amendment that would prohibit public funds being used for abortions except to save a mother's life. In 2012, the Arkansas Personhood Amendment, which would've defined the word person to include the unborn, was proposed but never made the ballot.
There has been no ballot measure since 1988 regarding abortion on the Arkansas voting ballot. Since 2013, Rapert has either sponsored or voted on a couple of proposed bills in the Arkansas legislature that have attempted to limit abortions in Arkansas. Each time, a court or judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional.
"We should have no laws at all if they are not going to be respected," said Rapert in regards to violating federal law.
Rapert also believes voters were duped into voting for Issue 6. He said that "big money lobbyists" have "cloaked their billion dollar marijuana business" to try and pass it off as medical marijuana.
On Thursday, the legislature voted to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure that is commonly used in second-trimester abortions.
Rapert's proposed bill, SB238, has been referred to Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor.