Arkansas Senate Passes Several Medical Marijuana Bills

Mar 16, 2017


The Arkansas Senate passed a number of bills Thursday regulating medical marijuana. One of those, HB1460, allows employers to establish marijuana-free workplace policies. It would allow employers to bar workers with physicians’ written certifications from showing up on the job if they are high. 

“It’s setting up that process to where, if somebody comes to work and their clearly impaired, they do not need to be operating a forklift or heavy equipment, things like that,” said Republican Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, a sponsor of the bill.

The legislation passed 27-3 and was sent back to the House of Representatives, which needs to concur in an amendment to the bill.

The voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment prohibits employers from making hiring or firing decisions based on an employee’s status as a qualifying patient for medical marijuana. But the original amendment did not spell out policies about what employers can do about employees who are under the influence.

All the bills passing in the Senate on Thursday had already passed the House in some form. In many cases the bills were amended on the Senate side, and needed to be sent back to the House for concurrence before they can make their way to the governor’s desk.

Other marijuana-related items passing the Senate on Thursday:

-HB1369 directs sales tax revenue from medical marijuana to the Alcoholic and Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration, the Department of Health, the Medical Marijuana Commission, and any other agency that incurs an expense due to regulating the drug. Bill passed 32-0 and goes back to the House to concur in an amendment.

-HB1436 stipulates that licensing fees issued for medical marijuana dispensaries and grow centers can be renewed annually before the beginning of the state fiscal year (July 1). The bill passed 30-0. It already passed in the House.

-HB1507 allows the Department of Finance and Administration, the Department of Health and the Medical Marijuana Commission to collect fines and fees from entities, such as grow centers or dispensaries, that violate rules or procedures regulating the use of the drug. The bill passed the Senate 33-0. The amended bill was returned to the House.

-HB1519 codifies into statute the creation of the Medical Marijuana Commission. The bill passed the Senate 29-3 and was returned to the House as amended.

-HB1584 allows a dispensary or cultivation center to be licensed to a “natural person,” or single individual  who is associated with the facility, if the original individual to whom the facility was licensed ceases to be in control.  The bill passed 30-3. It already passed the House.