Arkansas medical marijuana patients will be allowed to actually smoke marijuana, despite attempts by members of the state legislature to strike this consumption method from the program.
On Monday, the Senate rejected a controversial measure in a vote of 10-to-15 that would have prevented the state’s medical marijuana patients from smoking marijuana. The measure, introduced by Republican Jason Rapert, would have amended last year’s voter-approved constitutional amendment by removing this form of ingestion from the language of the law.
During his testimony, Rapert told the Senate “some will die as a result of this loose amendment.”
“Whether from burning wood, tobacco, marijuana the same toxins and carcinogens that are released from the combustion of materials, especially in cigarette smoke, are also present in marijuana smoke,” Rapert said, spewing from a pamphlet by the American Lung Association.
Nevertheless, the majority of the Senate, including members of the Republican Party, did not believe it was in the best interest of the Democratic process to go against the grain of a law passed by the voters.
“Whether we like it or not the people have voted this in and they want us to comply,” said Senator Jeremy Hutchinson. “The only thing they gave us authority to do in the constitutional amendment was to implement their wishes. I would argue this is in direct violation of the vast majority of people that voted for that. I think it’s time to respect the will of the people even if it doesn’t comport with our desires or our feelings.”
The lawmaker told his colleagues that if they moved to eliminate smoking from the medical marijuana amendment, voters would likely rise up and pass full legalization, just to spite them.
“If we want to ensure that we’ll have recreational marijuana in two years then do this,” Hutchinson said. “Because the people will rise up and they will pass recreational marijuana. They will probably punish a lot of us for thinking we’re smarter than they are.”
To complete his argument against the ban, Hutchinson compared the issue to the use of tobacco.
“Smoking tobacco is bad but nobody’s filed a bill to outlaw smoking of tobacco,” he said. “While I agree that smoking marijuana is not ideal and there’s better way to deliver whatever medicinal values there are, the people spoke.”
Unfortunately, the fight is not completely over, as the Senate did approve a motion that allows Rapert to reintroduce his proposal again in the future.