The excitement of starting a new session may not be what it used to be — it’s his third as a Senator and fourth session as a legislator or it may be that Sen. Gary Stubblefield is about to spend his days talking about an issue he openly opposed.
“No, I’m really not,” Stubblefield (R-Branch) said last week when asked if he was looking forward to the 2017 session. “But, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s coming anyway.
“This marijuana deal is going to take up a lot more (time) than they realize.”
The session started on Monday, Jan. 9.
While speaking in favor of a sales tax to fund a new county jail at a public meeting in Magazine on June 30, Stubblefield , whose district came out against the then two medical marijuana initiatives set to be before voters in November.
One bill was booted from the ballot and the other passed, but the lawmaker has not changed his stance.
“I’m like this, we’ve got opium from a poppy plant and marijuana is just another play God put on this earth, so why do we need to legalize it,” Stubblefield said.
Stubblefield also accrues the marijuana of the 2010s is “so much more potent than in the 60s or 70s. I’ve got a feeling we’re in for a lot of negativity for passing this thing.”
Stubblefield says he bases that belief from having visited Colorado, where marijuana has also been legalized, and hearing horror stories including a man who was high, killing his wife and children and himself.
Objections aside, Stubblefield said crafting the regulations is going to prove costly, as much as $2 to $3 million for start-up, to anyone who is granted a license to grow the plant.
“It’s going to cost a mint,” he said. “There’s a $1 million bond, they must have $500,000 in cash. The license is $100,000 and it’s $15,000 for the permit application.
“And it’s still against federal law. They could shut it down at any time.”
While he cannot do anything about the legalization of the drug in the state, Stubblefield would like to define the circumstances by which an individual is driving under the influence, as is the case with alcohol. He said a bill to do so is in the draft stage.
“Maine has a legal limit for marijuana already. How are you going to prosecute somebody if we don’t have a criminally legal limit to go against,” said Stubblefield.
Other bill priorities for Stubblefield include a grandparent’s rights bill, a bill to cut off funding to cities who become sanctuary cities and a criminal enhancement for crimes against some public servants.
The grandparent’s rights bill, which Stubblefield promised to submit back in June, is born of the drug culture, Stubblefield said, and would establish reasonable visitation rights.
Stubblefield said he had a grandparent from Jacksonville call him recently.
“They had raised three two grandchildren for three years because their son had all kinds of problems,” said Stubblefield. “Now he has remarried and he comes in and takes the kids. The court said he is the biological father. They said he took them to a ballgame and when the kid missed a shot or something he got mad and started beating the kids. They thought DHS or the police would do something, but they didn’t.
“I get calls like that from all over the state.”
Stubblefield also faults the bench.
“Judges are not helping the whole situation. They are supposed to be looking out for what’s in the best interest of the child,” he said. “When grandparents have had a kid three, four, five years and then they’re taken away, that’s not in the best interest of the child.”
As it stands, Stubblefield said, too often the grandchildren end up cut off from the grandparents entirely or used for extortion of money.
The sanctuary city bill which seeks to keep cities from welcoming illegal immigrants, Stubblefield said be believed, initially had Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s favor, Stubblefield said, but he has since been told that may no longer be the case.
“Why would he not be in favor of supporting an existing federal law,” Stubblefield asks. “All it does is take away state funding if a city wants to set up a sanctuary city.”
The bill is proactive, Stubblefield said, because “we don’t have a problem now.”
Anyone in favor of a sanctuary cities, Stubblefield said, hasn’t considered that it is the illegal immigrants who are not inclined to criminality who are victimized by illegals who are criminally minded, and citizens as well, because they are afraid of turning anyone in because they are illegal as well and could face deportation.
The criminal enhancement bill would allow the addition of an extra year of prison and or an additional $5,000 fine for threatening policemen, firemen or paramedics, or members of their families and make doing so a felony.
According to his member profile at www.arkleg.state.ar.us Stubblefield can be reached via email at email@example.com