When Arkansans voted in favor of a ballot issue to permit the use of medical marijuana in our state, they also voted in favor of substantial oversight in the distribution.

Issue 6, now Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution, directed two state agencies and one newly formed commission to oversee the implementation and regulation.

Over the course of the next several weeks we will be following the rule making process closely. If there is a need for additional legislation, that can be addressed in the upcoming session.

The Medical Marijuana Commission held its first meeting this week and will hold another on December 20. Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman to the commission. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam appointed Dr. Stephen J. Carroll, PharmD. and attorney Travis Story. Senate President Jonathan Dismang appointed a former state Senate Chief of Staff James Miller and Dr. J Carlos Roman, M.D. At the first meeting, Dr. Tillman was elected by members to serve as chair.

Members of the Medical Marijuana Commission will be working to adopt:

• Rules for considering and renewing licenses for dispensaries and cultivation facilities

• Operating, inspection and advertising requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities

• Application and renewal fees for dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

The Amendment states there should be at least 20 but not more than 40 dispensary licenses issued. No more than 4 dispensaries can be permitted in the same county.

It also makes clear there should be at least 4 but not more than 8 cultivation facilities licensed.

And while the commission is considering its rules, the Department of Health and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will also be working to implement the regulation required by the amendment.

The Department of Health will be working to adopt:

• Rules for considering and renewing applications for Registry Identification Cards

• Labeling and testing standards for marijuana distributed to qualifying patients

• Rules for designated caregivers assisting a physically disabled person or minor.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division will be working to adopt:

• Rules for considering and renewing applications of registry identification cards for dispensary and cultivation facility employees

• The form and content of registration and renewal applications

• Procedures for terminating the registration of dispensaries or cultivation facilities and subsequent penalties

Amendment 98 states all of the rules must be adopted by early March and that the commission must begin accepting applications for cultivation and dispensary licenses by June.

One bill has been filed extend the deadline to July 1, which is also the beginning of the fiscal year for the state.

An additional piece of legislation has been filed to address the criminal background of those seeking a distribution permit.

The Regular Session of 2017 begins on January 9. We will continue to update you on the developments with the new rules and regulations. And as a reminder the House streams all House chamber proceedings and most committee meetings during the session. Streaming and updates are available at www.arkansashouse.org.