Governor: Feds shouldn't target medical marijuana but recreational use is fair game | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Governor: Feds shouldn't target medical marijuana but recreational use is fair game

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge LIMITED LEGALIZATION: Governor Hutchinson stopped short of criticizing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recission of Obama-era policy on marijuana. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • LIMITED LEGALIZATION: Governor Hutchinson stopped short of criticizing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recission of Obama-era policy on marijuana.

Governor Hutchinson said today he believes the U.S. Department of Justice should distinguish between the medical and recreational use of marijuana when enforcing federal drug laws.

The comments, made during a Thursday afternoon press conference about an unrelated issue, were in response to reporters' questions regarding today's move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind Obama administration policies that minimized federal prosecution of marijuana-related crimes. 

"From my perspective, there needs to be a difference in view between medical marijuana and recreational use of marijuana," Hutchinson said.

"Sessions … should look at where President Trump has been. President Trump has recognized medical marijuana as an appropriate exception to federal enforcement policy, but he’s not said the same thing about recreational use."

With the passage of a 2016 ballot initiative, Arkansas joined the growing list of states that have legalized medical marijuana, though pot sales have not yet begun due to a slow implementation of the amendment. The measure was opposed by Hutchinson and most other Republicans before its passage. Recreational use remains illegal in Arkansas.

"I think it’s a very significant development today," Hutchinson said today of Session's announcement to undo the Obama-era policy. "The question is what he's going to replace that guidance with … [and] whether there’s going to be any carve-out exception in federal enforcement policy."

The governor noted the nascent marijuana industry in Arkansas needs clarity about whether financial institutions, which are subject to federal regulation, can perform transactions that may involve money related to marijuana sales. "Obviously, that impacts us in Arkansas with medical marijuana production and businesses."

The process of distributing licenses to marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers is currently underway in the state.

But Hutchinson — who is a former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — did not directly criticize Sessions' decision. He suggested that it would be appropriate to enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have sanctioned the recreational use of the drug, in part because of the chilling effect that the threat of such prosecutions might have on the spread of full legalization.

"I do not want Arkansas to become a recreational use state. The people passed medical marijuana; they did not adopt recreational use, and I do not believe they would. And so I don’t want to see that national trend working its way into Arkansas, and federal enforcement is an important part of where we go as a country," he said.

Hutchinson would not say whether he would ask Sessions or the Trump administration for such a delineation between medical and recreational states.

"I’ve known Jeff Sessions for 30 years. We were both U.S. attorneys together. I know him well, and the only surprise I have is that it took him this long to get there," he said. "But it’s still a little bit unknown as to where it goes from here. I may express my views to them, but we’ll wait and see."

Tags: , , , ,


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.
    • Feb 4, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017


Most Viewed

  • Marijuana makes Harding University grad a billionaire

    Meet a new Arkansas-native billionaire — Michael Blue, who grew up in Searcy and graduated from Harding University. He owes his wealth to marijuana.
  • Are the Razorbacks out of their league?

    Ouch. The Southeastern Conference football schedule hasn't yet begun and the New York Times offers an article suggesting the Arkansas Razorbacks aren't up to playing in the league.
  • French Hill carefully vetting crowd for Mike Pence visit

    Mike Pence will appear at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill today in Little Rock and the campaign is monitoring carefully who'll be allowed to attend or cover the event. Hill is running a hide-and-seek campaign, making himself available only in safe settings. Maybe 1,200 of the right sort of people will atternd.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation