LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas state legislator filed a bill Wednesday that would delay the implementation deadlines for the state’s medical-marijuana program.
On Nov. 8, voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to create a system for dispensing marijuana to patients with certain medical conditions, with doctors’ recommendations. The amendment requires the state Department of Health to create a process for applying for registration cards for qualifying patients and establishing labeling and testing standards for marijuana within 120 days of the amendment’s passage.
The amendment also requires the creation of a five-member commission, with one member appointed by the governor, two by the House speaker and two by the Senate president pro tem. The commission is required to set up a process for issuing licenses to dispensaries and cultivation facilities within 120 days of the amendment’s passage and to begin accepting applications for licenses by June 1.
Also, the amendment requires the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration to adopt rules for overseeing the dispensaries and cultivation facilities within 120 days of the amendment’s passage.
House Bill 1026 by Rep Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, would change the 120-day deadlines to 180 days and change the June 1 deadline to July 1.
Douglas has said Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office asked him to file the bill because the agencies believe they cannot meet the deadlines in the amendment. He also has said that delaying the deadlines would ensure an opportunity for public participation and transparency in the process.
Little Rock lawyer David Couch, who wrote the amendment, has said he has no objection to the proposed delays.