The Arkansas Senate has again rejected a medical cannabis smoking ban after the measure was initially defeated by the body last week, the Times Record reports. The proposal received one additional vote this time around but the end result was the same.
Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson said the voter-approved medical cannabis law includes language that prevents the Legislature from making changes to the measure, indicating that it is the responsibility of the lawmakers to respect the will of the people.
“The point is, they said we couldn’t touch it,” he said in the report.
Democratic state Sen. Linda Chesterfield pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people voted for the medical cannabis amendment and that 35 senators should not “substitute [their] will for theirs.”
Although the bill was defeated last week, the vote was expunged which allowed it to be reintroduced and voted on. Sen. Jason Rapert, the Republican sponsor of the measure, moved to expunge this vote as well, but that was rejected by the Senate. Rapert maintains that smoking should not be an allowed delivery method because children could be exposed to second-hand smoke.
“I’m asking you to protect the state of Arkansas, protect the health of the people of the state and protect our children, for goodness’ sake,” he said.
Rapert has introduced another measure to make changes to the amendment; however the bill is a shell – the information could be added later – and it’s unclear what the proposal would include beyond its purpose “to amend… the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.”
Legislators need a two-thirds vote to make changes to the voter-approved amendment.