Law enforcement officials in the Fort Smith region don’t plan to address Arkansans who bring medical marijuana in from Oklahoma any differently than they already treat people who have the drug.

Fort Smith police and 12th and 21st District Drug Task Force officials said medical marijuana brought in from Oklahoma is at the same priority level for them as people who have the drug illicitly. Arkansans commit a federal crime if they bring the drug into the state after receiving it at an out-of-state medical dispensary, Melissa Miller of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said on Jan. 4.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oklahoma have opened following the pass of State Question 788 in 2018, including one in Roland on Jan. 1. Oklahoma issues temporary licenses to out-of-state medical marijuana card holders for in-state purchase. Arkansas medical marijuana applicants following the pass of state legislation for medical marijuana in 2016 received approval letters but have not received cards due to legislative delays.

Arkansas officials should issue cards in February and dispense medical marijuana in April, Department of Health Spokesperson Meg Mirivel said on Jan. 3. This would allow Arkansas cardholders to purchase and use medical marijuana in Oklahoma during the two-month gap between the card issue and the dispensing.

“It’s OK as long as you’re there,” Drug Task Force Director Paul Smith said. “It’s when you start transporting it is when you get into a hiccup.”

Marijuana is widely accepted for its medical value by practitioners throughout the United States and is recreationally legal in 10 states. It is a Schedule VI controlled substance in Arkansas and is usually addressed under state law with a misdemeanor charge if the person in possession is not trying to deliver or distribute the substance. Federal statutes would be applied to the suspected crime if interstate transportation is involved.

Smith in September said marijuana is “the most plentiful drug” in Sebastian and Crawford counties but that Drug Task Force officials do not seek it out unless several pounds or more are trafficked. Question 788 limits card holders to six mature marijuana plants, six seedlings, up to 3 ounces on his or her person and up to 8 ounces at his or her residence.

“We’ve got meth, heroin, opioids,” Smith said. “We have to prioritize, and regardless of what people say on the internet, we can’t focus on marijuana smokers.”

Though Fort Smith police do not plan to focus on interstate transportation into the city by Arkansans, police Spokesperson Aric Mitchell said officers have asked about how they address Oklahoma card holders who commute into town. He declined to comment on Friday about specific procedures for that kind of instance.

“That particular issue, to my knowledge, hasn’t arisen,” Mitchell said. “It could arise.”

Otherwise, police will conduct business as usual, Mitchell said.

“They’re definitely going to follow the proper protocols if they come upon it, but they’re not staked out at the bridge or anything,” Mitchell said.