On March 13, 2017, the Arkansas Senate voted once again to reject SB 357, a measure that would have banned the smoking of medical marijuana in the state. With a vote of 11-15, the measure fell 13 votes short of garnering the two-thirds majority required to amend the state’s medical marijuana law.
Sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert, the bill initially failed on March 6, but was revived when state senators voted to expunge the initial vote. After the bill failed for the second time, another attempt to expunge the vote was tried but was ultimately defeated.
According to Arkansas Online, during the debate over the measure, Rapert told his colleagues to reject the measure because the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act “was never about medicine to begin with.” But Sen. Linda Chesterfield rejected that argument stating that “voters told us what they wanted.”
“I urge you not to substitute your will for theirs,” Chesterfield said.
Undaunted, Rapert told Arkansas News that he could still attempt to change the law by amending SB 721, a bill aimed at altering the state’s medical marijuana law. Introduced on the last day to file legislation, the bill is in a “shell form,” with details to be added later.