LITTLE ROCK — Two doctors, a pharmacist, a lawyer and a former chief of staff for the Arkansas Senate were named Wednesday to serve on the new Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.
Under a constitutional amendment approved by voters Nov. 8 to legalize medical marijuana, the five-member commission will be responsible for regulating medical-marijuana cultivation and distribution to qualifying patients, establishing a system of administering and regulating the licensing of medical-marijuana dispensaries, and setting conditions and requirements for physicians, dispensaries and patients.
The governor gets one appointment to the commission. In a news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his appointee is Dr. Rhonda Henry-Tillman of Little Rock, professor of surgery and a surgical oncologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and co-director of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS.
“Based upon my personal interview with her and confidence in her, I know that she will do a job full of integrity, ” Hutchinson said.
The Senate president pro tem gets two appointments to the commission. Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said in the news conference his picks are James Miller of Bryant, former chief of staff for the Arkansas Senate, and Dr. Carlos Roman of Little Rock, a pain doctor.
Miller “has extensive knowledge in rules, regulations, promulgation rules and the ability to carry those out,” Dismang said. “I felt as though it was very important to have someone with that type of background with both the executive branch and the legislative branch and again, being able to follow through from beginning to end that rulemaking process.”
Dismang said Roman is “very well known because of his commitment to ensuring the protection of both the patients and the doctors in the prescribing of narcotics.”
The House speaker gets two appointments. Rep. Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, said his appointees are Dr. Stephen Carroll of Benton, chief operations officer of Allcare Correctional Pharmacy, and Fayetteville lawyer Travis Story.
Gillam said, “Having somebody from this world, pharmacy, and having the skill sets that they bring to the table will be very important, but also I do believe that we needed some legal expertise into this mix as well.”
Hutchinson, Dismang and Gillam all voted against the medical-marijuana amendment but said Wednesday they will carry out their responsibilities under it.
The amendment requires the panel to hold its first meeting within 15 days of the members being appointed.
The commission is required to set up a process for issuing licenses to dispensaries and cultivation facilities within 120 days of the amendment’s passage and to begin accepting applications for licenses by June 1. Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, has filed a bill that would delay those deadlines to 180 days and July 1, respectively.