Panel Approves Ban on Marijuana Edibles, Smoking in Public

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- "This is the first time for the state to have medical marijuana and we need to go slowly," said St. Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, during a Wednesday hearing on several medical marijuana bills she sponsored. One of the bills bans edible forms of the drug. Lundstrum worries it will get into the hands of children.

But advocates for the drug say a ban will block access to some of the sickest patients.

"You take a cancer patient who has a difficult time, they don't want to smoke it," said Melissa Fults, with the Drug Policy Education Group. "They can't swallow a pill but you can still stick a sucker in the side of their mouth and it will slowly dissolve."

Lundstrum pushed a bill to prevent patients from smoking in moving vehicles and in other places.

"Anywhere where there's no tobacco smoking allowed, there would be no marijuana smoking," Lundstrum said.

That idea got a thumbs up from the committee, but another proposal received more skepticism.

It would allow city and county leaders to push for citizen votes banning medical marijuana businesses.

"It's important, I think, that we create some mechanisms for these local communities to have greater local control," said Jerry Cox president of the Family Council, a Christian conservative group. 

But lawmakers voted down that proposal over worries it would lead to large areas of the state with no supply.

"We all voted this for this to make sure that patients had access, legal access, to medication," said Fults. 

The ban on edibles is headed for the house floor where it faces and uphill battle as any changes to the voter-approved medical marijuana amendment require a two-thirds vote to pass.
 


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