|Graphic: Arkansans For Medical Cannabis|
An Arkansas state senator who previously said he expected to file a bill this year to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas now says the bill should be filed in the state House, not the Senate.
“My thinking at this point is that the bill should probably start at the House end,” said Sen. Randy Laverty (D-Jasper) in the Capitol rotunda, where the group Arkansans for Medical Cannabis was launching a two-day program to promote legalizing marijuana for medicinal uses.
“I think perhaps the bigger challenge will be on the House end,” Laverty said. “Do we [in the Senate]want to devote a lot of time and enter into the fray that will come about naturally because of this kind of controversial legislation if we can’t get it out of House committee?”
Laverty said he’d talked to some House members about the issue, but would not name names, reports John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau. The chances of a medical marijuana bill getting through a House committee may vary, depending upon the committee to which it is assigned by the House speaker, according to Laverty.
“My guess would be Public Health” would be the committee most favorably inclined toward it, Laverty said.
|Arkansas state Senator Randy Laverty: “When you see people suffering, desperately sick, and people who have no appetite, people who are in constant, chronic pain… it just seems to be something that we should consider”|
Arkansans for Medical Cannabis has drafted a bill, but has not yet gotten a sponsor in the House, according to Robert Reed, spokesman for the group.
“That’s why we scheduled this for the first week of the legislative session,” Reed said.
Laverty — a cancer survivor, but not a marijuana user — said that through his experience with liver cancer he got to know people whose suffering could be eased by medical marijuana.
“When you see people suffering, desperately sic k, and people who have no appetite, people who are in constant, chronic pain… it just seems to be something that we should consider,” Laverty said.
The November general election ended with more Republicans in the Arkansas Legislature than at any time since Reconstruction, though Democrats still hold slim majorities in both chambers.
“If I were estimating, I’d say the likelihood of our body in total would be more conservative than before, so that may have some effect on it,” Laverty said. “But it’s an issue that I think needs to be debated and discussed.”
Arkansans For Medical Cannabis have a goal to enact legislation which frees Arkansans to access cannabis as a medicinal therapy without fear of arrest or prosecution.
“Our goal is to insure the citizens of Arkansas regain their right as defined by our Constitution to decide for themselves what an appropriate method of medication is WITHOUT government intervention,” the group’s mission statement reads.
Visit their website at http://www.gozarks.com/a4mc/, see them on Facebook, email [email protected] or telephone 501-291-0281 for more information.