LITTLE ROCK — Licensing of cultivators was a big topic among commissioners at the fourth meeting of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board office in Little Rock.
State Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, and state Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville, gave commissioners Ronda Henry-Tillman, Stephen J. Carroll, Travis Story, James Miller (who called in to the meeting), and J. Carlos Roman an overview of legislation filed that deals with licensure of entities that will be involved in cultivation, processing and transportation of marijuana for medical purposes.
House noted that House Bill 1026, which House sponsored, would provide the commission an additional two months over what was provided for in the amendment passed by voters that legalized medical marijuana, to complete the rules and regulations and begin accepting applications for vendors. House Bill 1049, also sponsored by House, provides a definition for the term “violent felony,” which House said was referenced in the amendment approved by voters but lacked legal definition.
“That term that was used in the amendment, a violent felony, has no legal meaning,” House told the commission. “It gives you a tool to work with in assessing what you have to.”
House said legislation was filed to amend the written certification requirement for people to be added to the registry to obtain medical marijuana so that rather than a full assessment is required, and the certification would be placed in the physician’s records, rather than the patient’s medical record.
Asking for clarification, Commissioner House asked how the practice of prescribing marijuana would work from a practical standpoint.
“How does a doctor prescribe, if they can’t prescribe marijuana from a federal standpoint? What is the link between the doctor and the patient to the dispensary?” he asked.
“The amendment says the physician shall make an assessment, which can be done using medical records,” House replied, adding that the overall goal is to streamline the process to give the responsible agencies more leeway in their determinations.
“Anything the state can change administratively is preferable to doing it legislatively, because we only meet every two years to make corrections, so the more that can be delegated to the agencies — and the Legislature does review those rules — the better off we’ll be,” House said.
Additional legislation commissioners were advised to consider included a provision for a nationwide background check, as well as an appropriation bill currently being drafted that would provide expense reimbursement for commissioners for any travel, education, or outreach activities necessary for the commission to function.
Commissioners then discussed how the application fee for vendors should be administered, with one commissioner wanting to make the entire fee nonrefundable, and the other four coming down in favor of either a refund or partial refund of the money. After some discussion regarding reimbursement of the fee if an application is rejected, the commission agreed to refund half of the fee, $7,500, with the rest to be kept by the state.