Arkansas Legislative Update: All the Cannabis Bills that Passed this Session
2021 has been a busy legislative season for cannabis in Arkansas!
Arkansas has ended the 93rd General Assembly, where our state legislators met to pass new bills and implement new laws. The session ran from January 11th, 2021 – April 30th, 2021, and in that time lawmakers and legislators packed the chambers full of marijuana related bills, or bills at least mentioning cannabis. For Arkansas marijuana patients, these bills have changed everything from the way we are able to get our cards, up to where we can even use our medicine. In this article, we’ll give you a highlight of all the bills concerning marijuana that passed, with an overview of what they did, and what they mean.
Arkansas Marijuana Bills Passed in 93rd General Assembly 2021
These bills are presented in the order they were introduced to either the house or the senate.
1. HB1072 Now Act 835
Became Act 835 on 4/21/2021
Title: “AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION - REGULATORY DIVISION APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2021-2022 FISCAL YEAR.”
This is a regulatory overview for appropriating different funds for the department of finance. This bill only addresses marijuana in that it assumes a debt from the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Administration and lays out the details of the expenses to be paid from the medical marijuana industry. Mostly business as usual, but interesting if you’d like to know how much money goes where, and what it pays for.
2. HB1106 Now Act 997
Became Act 997 on 4/28/2021
Title: “AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION - DISBURSING OFFICER APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2021-2022 FISCAL YEAR.”
This bill is more of the same regulatory financial appropriations, nothing particularly notable outside of the money trail and how that money is allowed to move.
3. SB226 Now Act 632
Became Act 632 on 4/12/2021
Title: “REQUIRING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO PROVIDE ADVICE RELATED TO ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION, AMENDMENT 98.”
Senate Bill 226 introduces an advisory subcommittee for Amendment 98, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana program. This subcommittee is charged with studying and implementing the necessary infrastructure around Amendment 98, as it should be applied constitutionally. This bill outlines the duties and responsibilities for this subcommittee.
4. HB1353 Now Act 342
Became Act 342 on 3/15/2021
Title: “TO AMEND THE PROHIBITIONS ON ADVERTISING AND USE OF CERTAIN SYMBOLS REGARDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA.”
House Bill 1353 prohibits dispensaries and cultivation facilities from using the images of a cross of any color, a caduceus, or any symbol that is commonly associated with the practice of medicine or the practice of pharmacy.
Introduced by Sen. Haak, Sen. Bledsoe, and Sen. Lundstrom, this bill is an irritating example of how our legislators view “medical” marijuana. A strange and seemingly unnecessary bill that entertains controversy and legislative incompetence.
5. HB1525 Now Act 1062
Became Act 1062 on 4/30/2021
Title: “CONCERNING THE UNLAWFUL POSSESSION, TRANSPORTATION, AND USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA.
House Bill 1525 started out as a gross example of overreaching and preventative abuse of power. Originally containing such explicit ignorance as preventing patients from taking their medicine in a public place or even being in a public place with medicine in their system, HB1525 from Sen. Lundstrum and Sen. Bledsoe started as a monstrous desire to control and inhibit chronically and terminally ill patients and finalized as a watered down loose-noodle of amendments.
HB1525’s goals ended up preventing the use of medical marijuana through inhalation in public places, prohibiting the transport of medical marijuana from another state into Arkansas, and a blurb concerning the amount of cannabis able to be legally transported by licensed transporters.
6. SB465 Now Act 434
Became Act 434 on 3/24/2021
Title: “TO EXTEND THE SUNSET DATE FOR THE ARKANSAS MEDICAL MARIJUANA SPECIAL PRIVILEGE TAX ACT OF 2017; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.”
We covered SB465 in our “Arkansas to Extend 4% Tax on Cannabis Sales” article. This bill essentially extends an unnecessary tax on patients who are already paying twice the retail cost for their medicine, under the premise of some sort of “emergency”.
7. HB1671 Now Act 810
Became Act 810 on 4/21/2021
Title: “TO ESTABLISH THE ARKANSAS STUDENT-ATHLETE PUBLICITY RIGHTS ACT.”
This bill has essentially nothing to do with cannabis, however it does outline very specifically that students participating in varsity intercollegiate athletics are prohibited from earning compensation from any person or entity who is engaged in businesses such as alcohol, gambling, tobacco, or marijuana.
8. HB1753 Now Act 661
Became Act 661 on 4/12/2021
Title: “TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE UNIFORM CLASSIFICATION AND COMPENSATION ACT; TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING NEW APPOINTMENTS AND COMPENSATION PLANS; TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING POSITION POOLS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.”
This bill actually has nothing to do with cannabis whatsoever, and only mentions the paygrade for the medical marijuana communications director.
9. HB1774 Now Act 666
Became Act 666 on 4/12/2021
Title: “TO AMEND ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION, AMENDMENT 98, ALSO KNOWN AS THE "ARKANSAS MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT OF 2016"; AND TO MODIFY REQUIREMENTS CONCERNING A PHARMACIST CONSULTANT.”
House Bill 1774 is an addition to Amendment 98 Section 4. This bill adds a line that allows a physician who writes a certification for cannabis in AR to also refer the patient to confer with a pharmacist consultant of a dispensary.
This is interesting because in Arkansas it is illegal for a physician to write a prescription for cannabis, or a specific type of cannabis.
An important piece of legislation, as there are thousands of strains of cannabis and an overwhelming amount of medical knowledge about them, the prescribing doctor may not be the right person to consult with specific dosages and products.
Led by Sen. Penzo, additional language in the bill provides the infrastructure requirements of dispensaries to have a pharmacist consultant.
10. SB654 Now Act 1028
Became Act 1028 on 4/29/2021
Title: “TO EXTEND THE PERIOD OF A VISITING QUALIFYING PATIENT REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARD FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA.”
This bill is one sentence and extends the period for visiting patient registration cards to 90 days.
11. HB1909 Now Act 919
Became Act 919 on 4/12/2021
Title: “TO AMEND THE LIMITATIONS ON ACCESS TO A CULTIVATION FACILITY.”
House Bill 1909 concerns the restrictions and public access to dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Before HB1909, the only allowed persons on dispensary property were staff and qualified patients.
Cultivation facilities were limited to staff. With this amendment, those who are not patients or staff can visit the non-restricted areas provided they are invited by the facility and follow strict security guidelines outlined in the bill.
From Sen. Gray and Sen. Leding, this is most likely geared towards media or news organizations and does not mean anyone can just walk into a dispensary now.
12. SB703 Now Act 1112
Became Act 1112 on 5/3/2021
Title: “TO AMEND THE TELEMEDICINE ACT; TO AMEND THE DEFINITIONS OF "PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP" AND "TELEMEDICINE" WITHIN THE TELEMEDICINE ACT; AND TO ALLOW TELEHEALTH CERTIFICATION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA.”
Senate Bill 703 reinstated telehealth procedures for Arkansas medical marijuana certifications. While the bill is now official, the AR Department of Health (which handles part of the infrastructure for ARMMJ) has yet to update their website or release an official statement.
They typically have around 90 days to implement processes and we are following this very closely. Introduced by Sen. Leding, SB703 recognizes the impact of COVID-19 and exemplifies compassion in dealing with Arkansas marijuana patients.
Become an Arkansas Marijuana Patient
Arkansas marijuana patients have had a big year in 2021, and with the upcoming stir for legalization and cannabis reform 2022 is looking to be an even bigger year for patients and activists both.
Becoming an Arkansas Marijuana Patient is easier than ever, Qualifying Arkansas patients can schedule an appointment to meet with one of our certified physicians and get approved for medical marijuana treatment.
We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way, feel free to give us a call at 844-249-8714, and we can answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Arkansas.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at 844-249-8714, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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