LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Rules governing who gets to grow and sell medical marijuana were given final approval by the Arkansas Board of Health Thursday, but must survive a review by lawmakers in order to go into effect on time.
Arkansas is still months away from people being allowed to grow and dispense marijuana. Legislators must first make some technical corrections on medical marijuana and ethics laws.
Medical Marijuana rules only need one more approval before the mandate is final. The Arkansas State Legislature will review those rules during a special session beginning May 1.
"Have it approved by then as an emergency rule. We'll file it, so it's effective by May the 8 and then we'll continue the regular process,” said Robert Brech, Chief General Counsel for the Arkansas Department of Health.
He said they do not anticipate any changes by legislatures during that special session.
"We don't anticipate there be any problems. This has been on file with the bureau of legislative research and the secretary of state since you approved it. There haven't been any real negative comments," he said.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, as modified by the Legislature, requires state rules to go into effect by May 8. A delay would result in the state going out of compliance with the constitution.
"By the time somebody could get to court and make some sort of claim that we're not doing what we were constitutionally mandated to do it will be finished," Brech said.
If you're waiting on medical marijuana to be legally available, it will be a while. The plants must first be grown here in Arkansas, so the earliest estimate could be early 2018.
"I think the effective date of all the acts that passed with the emergency clause will be July 31," he said.
That July 31 date does not mean that medical marijuana will be dispensed or even grown in the state at that time.