Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently advised medical marijuana card recipients that bringing marijuana into the state won’t be the wisest decision. The Arkansas Department of Health recently announced it would be issuing medical marijuana registry ID cards on a shorter timeframe than expected, but the nearest dispensary with marijuana available would be in Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, plans for the first dispensary within the state have an expected opening date of April 2019. The cards are being issued now to allow patients to have access to marijuana immediately when the Arkansas dispensary opens its doors.
Gov. Hutchinson has concerns that residents will transport marijuana over the state border, which would violate federal statutes. This could be a result of advice from Little Rock attorney David Couch, who was instrumental in the composition of Amendment 98. Couch made comments suggesting it would be acceptable to resort to this mode of accessing marijuana until it became available within the state.
Couch noted in comments last week that the Amendment specifically excludes wording that would mean the marijuana must be purchased in state, since he has hopes that the drug will be legal at the federal level in the future and he hopes to avoid interference with purchase elsewhere.
Couch also noted that, while it is federally illegal to purchase marijuana and transport it across state lines, simply possessing the drug is also illegal at the federal level. Therefore, the decision to purchase marijuana from a legally operated dispensary — even in another state — is a more responsible choice than purchasing from a drug dealer closer to home, at least according to Couch’s view.
Gov. Hutchinson noted in his address that the drug is only approved for 18 specific medical conditions, and 7,000 patients within the state are approved to utilize marijuana for medical treatment of those conditions.
He called individuals who mention the opportunity to travel out of state to purchase marijuana prior to the expected April availability “misguided”. His opinion seems to be that, despite the long wait already experienced, the best approach to this new situation is to continue to wait until a legal avenue is made available in Arkansas for marijuana purchase.