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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program Could Be Delayed

Legislation has been introduced to give the state more time to implement the program.

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Although voters in Arkansas recently approved an initiative to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, it could be longer than originally anticipated before patients are able to take advantage of the program.

That’s because legislation has been introduced in the Arkansas House that could end up preventing the state’s new medical marijuana program from being implemented in a timely manner.

A report from Region 8 News indicates that Representative Douglas House of Little Rock recently submitted House Bill 1026, a measure designed to amend the regulatory deadline, in hopes of giving state officials an additional month to finalize some details.

As it stands, the current law, which was established through the passing of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (Issue 6), gives the state Department of Health 120 days to set up a system for which patients qualifying for participation in the program can apply for registration cards.

It also makes it mandatory for Governor Asa Hutchinson in conjunction with the State Legislature to assemble a five-member commission responsible for overseeing the licensing of cultivation sites and dispensaries. This commission is supposed be prepared to being accepting applications before June 1, 2017.

However, House Bill 1026 aims to give the commission more time.

"It is an unwise expenditure of public resources to enact the necessary appropriations, acts and establish the necessary fiscal and regulatory provisions for a one-month period beginning on June 1, 2017; and the date of July 1, 2017 is a better effective date for the Medical Marijuana Commission to begin accepting applications," House wrote in the bill.

Interestingly, it was Governor Hutchinson’s office that asked House to file the legislation, mainly because none of the agencies involved with the regulatory process feel confident in their ability to meet the original deadline.

So far, organizers responsible for pushing Issue 6 have not expressed any concern over the potential delay.

House Bill 1026 is expected to be heard when the Arkansas Legislature reconvenes on January 9, 2017.

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