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Two bottles of medical marijuana on a table with doctor writing paperwork

Pulaski County Judge Voids 27 Medical Marijuana Laws in Arkansas

On June 14, 2023, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch issued an order that voided 27 laws regulating medical marijuana in Arkansas. According to the ruling, the General Assembly unconstitutionally overstepped its bounds when it passed legislation changing Amendment 98 that legalized the drug.

The plaintiffs in this case were Good Day Farm Arkansas, LLC, a Pine Bluff cultivator, and Capital City Medicinal, LLC, a Little Rock dispensary. They sued the state in 2022, arguing that the Legislature bypassed the required constitutional amendment process and instead passed constitutional changes as if they were regular laws requiring 2/3 approval by the General Assembly.

In his order overturning more than two dozen laws passed by the General Assembly in the 2017, 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions, Judge Welch ruled that lawmakers violated their constitutional restraints by effectively changing Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution without referring their changes to the people for a vote.

This ruling has significant implications for medical marijuana regulation in Arkansas. Laws that regulated how much THC can be in medical marijuana edibles, how dispensaries and cultivators may advertise their products, and how the state collects taxes on medical marijuana are now “void” and “unconstitutional.” Other laws that are impacted include those regulating security of cultivation facilities, prescriptions after telemedicine appointments, and issuance of temporary dispensary licenses.

Amendment 98 gives authority to the Department of Health to regulate certain aspects of the medical marijuana program, and in some instances mandates that the health department regulate. According to recent media reports, marijuana businesses are continuing to comply with laws that have been deemed unconstitutional, and Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin released a statement in which he indicated plans to appeal. As of this writing, no appeal has been filed.

We are keeping our eye out for an appeal and continuing to analyze the impact this will have on medical marijuana regulation and continued operation of existing businesses in Arkansas going forward.

If your business is affected by this decision, The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas PLLC can help. Protecting your interests is our job, and staying on top of evolving legislation is just one example of how we practice law the right way. For more information, give us a call at 479-316-3760 or contact our office for help, today.

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