Four marijuana bills sent to governor, more may follow
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson(Photo: File)
State lawmakers sent four medical marijuana-related bills to Gov. Asa Hutchinson last week, and several other bills require legislative cleanup before they can join the others on the governor s desk, a review of legislative records indicate. House Bill 1451, which was sent to the governor s desk earlier this month, was signed into law as Act 479 of the 91st General Assembly on Thursday. That bill prohibits members of the Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military from participating in the state s medical marijuana program as either a patient or a registered caregiver. All four of the bills forward to the governor s office originated in the House of the Representatives and received Senate approval last week.
On Tuesday, March 14, senators approved House Bill 1049, which would allow the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, the Department of Health or the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to decide which felonies would exclude someone from owning or working in a marijuana facility. All three Twin Lakes Area senators Scott Flippo of Bull Shoals, Missy Irvin of Mountain View and Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas voted in favor of the bill, which passed on a 27-4 vote with three senators not voting. The Senate approved three more marijuana-related bills on Thursday, sending each one to Gov. Hutchinson.
House Bill 1436 would require that state-issued licenses operate marijuana facilities expire on June 30 and must be renewed before July 1. That bill was approved 30-0 with Flippo and Irvin each voting in favor of the bill, while Collins-Smith was one of five legislators opting to not vote. House Bill 1460, which would allow employers to prohibit medical marijuana use among workers in security sensitive positions, was approved 26-3 with Flippo and Irvin each voting in favor of the bill. Collins-Smith was one of four senators to not vote, and one legislator voted present. House Bill 1584 would allow the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to issue temporary dispensary and cultivation facility licenses in the event the original licensee no longer controls day-to-day operations of the facility. That bill was approved 30-3, with Flippo and Irvin voting in its favor while Collins-Smith voted against it.
Three House bills received approval from the upper chamber last week, but due to Senate amendments they have been returned to the House for a second vote. The Senate approved House Bill 1057, which calls for the State Police and the FBI to conduct criminal background checks on registered caregivers and potential owners of any marijuana business. That bill was approved 32-0, with two senators not voting and one voting present. Flippo, Irvin and Collins-Smith each voted in favor of HB1057. That bill was amended earlier this month in the Senate to add Irvin as a co-sponsor, and will be forwarded to the governor once the House approves that amendment.
House Bill 1369, which would require that tax revenue generated from marijuana first reimburse the state for operation and administrative expenses, was approved 32-0 with all three Twin Lakes Area Senators voting in its favor. An amendment filed by Irvin, the bill s co-sponsor, requires the Legislature to re-examine the allocation of medical marijuana proceeds in 2019 and consider redirecting a portion of that revenue to workforce education. HB1369 has been re-referred to the House to for legislators to approve that amendment before the bill can be forwarded to the governor.
House Bill 1519 would place the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission inside the Department of Finance and Administration. It was approved 29-3 by the Senate with Flippo and Irvin each voting in favor of the bill. Collins-Smith was one of two legislators who did not vote, and another voted present. While in the Senate, HB1519 was amended to add Irvin as a co-sponsor, so the bill must return to the House for another vote before advancing to the governor s office. Any bill modifying the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
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