House panel backs resolution to lower fee for marijuana cards, extend length to two years

A House committee endorsed a resolution yesterday that would request a state agency to discount medical marijuana cards by 50% and extend the duration of the cards from one year to two. 

House Resolution 1079, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Richmond (R-Harvey), is a resolution that would not require the state Department of Health to make the changes but would express the legislature’s desire for it to do so. The measure requires a simple majority to pass, while a bill would have required a two-thirds majority. 

HR1079 says that the cost of a card causes a financial burden on patents and asks the state Department of Health to discount the cards and extend their length. 

It costs $50 to file applications for a medical marijuana card for a patient, caregiver or visiting patient, the department’s website states. The department also charges $37 for criminal background checks for caregivers. 

In other marijuana legislative news, the bill to ban Delta-8 is on the agenda for the full House today. Senate Bill 358 came under scrutiny in a House committee last month when advocates raised concerns that the bill would ban non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN and CBG. The sponsors, Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) and Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs), added an amendment so that those products would not be impacted and the bill quickly passed. 

The bill would ban Delta-8 products, which are sold in a variety of stores across the state and widely on the internet. The products have existed in a legal gray area since Congress passed the Farm Bill in 2018, legalizing hemp production. 

If the bill passes the House today, it will head back to the Senate, because the House added an amendment. The Senate passed the bill 33-1 on March 15.

The House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1784 yesterday to allow medical marijuana cardholders to be eligible for concealed carry handgun licenses. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R-Knoxville) and presented in committee by Richmond, passed 82-5 with bipartisan support after clearing a House committee with no audible dissent. In committee, the discussion of the bill centered less on medical marijuana cardholders and more on whether Arkansans need concealed carry licenses at all. One committee member said that, although Arkansans don’t need a permit to carry concealed weapons in the state, some people like to have them when visiting other states that require them. 

The bill heads next to the Senate’s City, County and Local Affairs Committee. 

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