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Ark. Senate Passes Six Bills Related to Voter-Approved MMJ Statute

The Arkansas Senate has passed six bills relating to medical cannabis, including one that codifies the creation of the Medical Marijuana Commission, and another that allows employers to establish cannabis-free workplace policies, according to NPR-affiliate KUAR. The latter would allow employers to prevent employees with medical cannabis recommendations from showing up to work if they are under the influence of cannabis.

Although the voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment bars employers from making employment decisions based on whether an employee holds a medical cannabis card, it does not include language about what employers can do if an employee shows up to work under the influence.

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

Another measure passed on Thursday, HB.1369, directs medical cannabis sales tax revenues to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, Department of Health, Medical Marijuana Commission, or any other agency that incurs expenses regulating medical cannabis.

HB.1436 would see operator licenses expire on June 30 of each calendar year – the day prior to the start of the state fiscal year. The change will likely help lawmakers craft the state budget, allowing them to include funds derived from medical cannabis business licensing fees.

HB.1507 would allow the commission and the departments of finance and health to collect fines and fees from licensed operators that violate regulations; and HB.1584 would allow the transfer of a licensed dispensary or cultivator to “a natural person” associated with the facility if the original owner ceases to be in control.

All of the measures have already passed the House; however they were amended in the Senate and must pass the House again before moving to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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