This article, written by Wright Lindsey Jennings’ Erika Ross Gee and published in The Arkansas Lawyer, explores the state of medical marijuana in Arkansas following the passage of the Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.
There have been years of public discussion on both sides of the issue of medical marijuana in Arkansas. Surprising many observers, a ballot measure which would have legalized medical marijuana nearly passed in November of 2012, with a final tally of 51.44% against with 48.65% for the measure.
After that near-victory, two separate medical marijuana measures were certified for the November 2016 ballot: the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 (Issue 6) and the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (Issue 7). In the months leading up to the November 2016 election, many members of the community, including the Governor and the State’s Surgeon General, were opposed to both measures, chiefly due to concerns over treating marijuana as a medication. Nevertheless, after Issue 7 was removed from the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court,2 Issue 6 passed with 53.09% to 46.91% of the votes cast and became effective the very next day, November 9, 2016.
This article will summarize the current state of medical marijuana after all of the changes made to Issue 6 by the 91st General Assembly, with the addition of the clarifications provided by the rulemaking by the Arkansas Department of Health (DOH), Department of Finance and Administration’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (MMC).