Separate proposals banning smoking and edibles under Arkansas’ voter-approved medical cannabis constitutional amendment have been rejected in the state Senate, but both could resurface later this week, NPR-affiliate KUAR reports. The smoking ban failed 10-15 with nine members abstaining, while the edible ban was deferred.
During Monday’s debate, Republican senators faced opposition from their own party, as Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, an opponent of the ballot initiative, said it was the responsibility of lawmakers to listen to the voters who passed Issue 6 53-47 last November. He added that if lawmakers pass a smoking ban “people will rise up and they will pass recreational marijuana.”
“Whether we like it or not the people have voted this in and they want us to comply. They only thing they gave us authority to do in the constitutional amendment was to implement their wishes,” he said in the report. “I would argue this is in direct violation of the vast majority of people that voted for that. I think it’s time to respect the will of the people even if it doesn’t comport with our desires or our feelings.”
His colleague, Sen. Jason Rapert, referenced opposition from the American Lung Association, saying that “the same toxins and carcinogens that are released from the combustion of materials…are also present in marijuana smoke.”
“You mark my word. People will be hurt, they will be injured, and some will die as a result of this loose amendment,” he claimed.
Legislators needed a two-thirds vote in the 35 member Senate to amend the constitutional amendment.
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