During Senate debate on Monday Republican sponsors of the amendment faced strong opposition from members of their own party. As someone who had previously been strongly opposed to the medical marijuana ballot initiative, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson warned that lawmakers should listen to the will of the voters, raising concerns that “people will rise up and they will pass recreational marijuana” if smokeable marijuana was banned.
“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,” Hutchinson said. “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.”
“You mark my word. People will be hurt, they will be injured, and some will die as a result of this loose amendment,” said Senator Jason Rapert (R- Bigelow). “Whether from burning wood, tobacco, marijuana the same toxins and carcinogens that are released from the combustion of materials, especially in cigarette smoke, are also present in marijuana smoke,” Rapert claimed in his thoroughly debunked throwback to drug war propaganda.
The ban on smoking medical marijuana failed 10 to 15, with nine members not voting. Since Arkansas’ medical marijuana law was created as a constitutional amendment it needs a two-thirds vote in the 35 member chamber in order to create an amendment.
The Senate approved a motion to allow Rapert to bring the bill back for another voter at a later date.