LITTLE ROCK — A state House member said Wednesday he will file a bill to ban advertising of medical marijuana in Arkansas.
Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, was presenting to the House Rules Committee a bill to authorize the state Medical Marijuana Commission to regulate medical-marijuana advertising when Rep. Lane Jean, R-Magnolia, questioned why there would be any advertising of the drug.
“This is not recreational,” House said. “This is medical marijuana. Why do we need to advertise it?”
House said there is nothing in Arkansas law now to prohibit such advertising. He said his bill would merely allow the state to regulate it.
“Could we get a bill from this body to prohibit advertising of it?” Jean asked.
“I’d be glad to introduce it,” House said.
“Can I get that commitment from you?” Jean asked.
“You just got it,” House said.
The bill, House Bill 1370, cleared the panel in a voice vote. It goes to the House.
The committee also endorsed bills by House that would prohibit most people with felony convictions from being issued a cultivation or dispensary license; allow cultivation facilities and dispensaries to contract with transporters, distributors and processors, which would be licensed by the commission; require criminal background checks for cultivation facility and dispensary applicants and agents, and for caregivers; and use sales tax revenues to create a fund to pay for administrative and enforcement costs.
In a voice vote, the panel rejected HB 1298 by House, which would require that a license to operate a cultivation facility or dispensary be issued to a person, not a corporation. House said it can be difficult to find a person to hold responsible for problems when a license is held by a corporation.
Little Rock lawyer Sylvester Smith spoke against the bill, saying the state would be able to hold a corporate licensee accountable and that shrewd business people would find a “straw man” to serve as the license holder in name only if the bill were to become law.
The committee tabled HB 1371 by House, which would require that a person applying for a license to operate a cultivation facility or dispensary and people owning at least 60 percent interest in the facility be Arkansas residents who have lived in the state for the past seven years.
Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in November.