While Arkansas voters are set to decide whether the state should legalize a medical marijuana program, a state lawmaker, one who opposes the two initiatives on the November ballot, is waiting along the sidelines for both measures to fail miserably so he can introduce a bill in the next session aimed at creating a more restrictive program.
Representative Dan Douglas recently told the Associated Press that, if the two competing medical marijuana initiatives are not successful this November, he fully intends to push a piece of legislation at the beginning of 2017 that would legalize a low-THC cannabis oil.
"I'm committed to working with the surgeon general, the health care community, with the Health Department, with the Medical Board, whoever we need to, to come up and draft responsible legislation that gives us the needed oversight to keep this from becoming a substance abuse problem in Arkansas," Douglas told reporters at a recent anti-marijuana legalization event.
The report indicates that Douglas’ bill would be similar to legalization passed in Florida and Texas, allowing only low-THC cannabis products to be distributed. However, it appears the measure would take the program up a notch by allowing people with a variety of health conditions to have access.
In other legal cannabis oil states, only patients with a handful of severe conditions are allowed to participate. Douglas’ bill seems to contain more than the average list of qualified conditions.
In the coming weeks, Arkansas voters will determine which of the two medical marijuana proposals they are most interested in putting on the books. Both measures would allow patients with various conditions to purchase legal weed from area dispensaries, while only one gives patients the freedom to engage in home cultivation.
Marijuana advocates say they are frustrated by Douglas’ dedication to legalize, now that the issue is already about to go before the voters. However, they seem to understand the nature of State Legislature enough to know the measure will likely never make it out of committee.
Governor Asa Hutchinson, who said earlier this year that the voters should wait for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve marijuana before making it legal, says he is aware of Douglas’ proposal but did not have an idea whether he would give it his support.