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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson sits to take questions from reporters Thursday. ( Emma Pettit)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he is “hesitant” to support an idea put forth by one state lawmaker to ban the act of smoking medical marijuana.

Arkansas voters passed the Medical Marijuana Amendment legalizing the drug for medical purposes in November. State officials are setting up regulations on how the plant will be grown and administered.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, recently told multiple media outlets that smoking the drug is harmful to people’s health and is an inappropriate way to administer medicine. No bill to ban the smoking of medical marijuana had been filed as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

When asked at a Thursday news conference if such a proposal conflicts with the spirit of the amendment, Hutchinson said he suspected Arkansans who voted in the law had “the visual of smoking” in mind.

"That carries some weight," Hutchinson said. "[What] was the voters' intent?"

Hutchinson later said Arkansans who want to grow marijuana in cultivation facilities must pay a $100,000 annual fee — the amount chosen by the Medical Marijuana Commission earlier this month. So if smoking the drug is no longer allowed, those licenses would be devalued, he said.

The governor said both the cultivation centers and the voters’ mindset make him “hesitant about shifting gears” to outlaw smoking medical marijuana.

“But I do think we need to continue to listen to the medical community and commission as they evaluate it,” he added.

Hutchinson also said it is important to remember the drug was approved to serve a medical purpose, not a recreational one. And doctors and those in the medical field are the ones who know best about how the substance should be given to patients, he said.

“This is something that just reflects the complexity of the issues we’re dealing with,” Hutchinson said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Archived Comments

  • TimberTopper
    January 26, 2017 at 2:03 p.m.

    Easy there Gov. go the wrong way on this one and there'll be no reason to collect funds for another run. You need to send the Rupert home.

  • JakeTidmore
    January 26, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

    Rapert? Isn't he the same egotistical jerkwad who recently touted himself as a big proponent of following the will and vote of the majority of Arkansans?
    Flaming hypocrite juice is rampant up there in the Bigelow bayou.

  • deb1954
    January 26, 2017 at 3:26 p.m.

    Sen. Jason Rapert IS A total IDIOT. I guess he thinks he above the voters. He really needs to go!

  • LR1955
    January 26, 2017 at 4:01 p.m.

    •against federal law to use/sell/grow marijuana but AR is gonna do it any way
    •federal law allows abortions but AR is trying to restrict that

    •not political party related, strictly legal mumbo jumbo•

  • Queen1976
    January 26, 2017 at 4:35 p.m.

    I think Rupert been smoking something, since he claims that smoking pot is as harmful as smoking cigarettes. That just is not true! In 2012, UCSF conducted a large-scale national study & found that low to moderate use of marijuana is less harmful to users’ lungs than exposure to tobacco, even though the two substances contain many of the same components. So please Rupert, stop making up lies to build your case!! These guys need to listen to the voters - or they may be voted out next time around!

  • hurricane46
    January 26, 2017 at 4:40 p.m.

    Right now Bro. RAPErt is in the running for the Arkansas Pinhead of the Year award, hopefully he will win and just go away.

  • nolan1
    January 26, 2017 at 4:52 p.m.

    This is absolutely ridiculous! Do WE THE VOTERS not matter to Senator Rapert? Governor, you should step up and immediately let Arkansas voters know you respect the will of majority! Dictator Rapert, do you not understand how addicting pain pills are and yet, that is what you suggest! Give Arkansas residents who are ill and suffering a choice...you wait Mr. Dictator as one of these days you will truly understand should you become ill! Hope Arkansas voters rise up in force...this is not simply a matter of medical marijuana...It is a matter of a Senator not listening and wanting to be dictator! By jnw

  • RaylanGivens
    January 26, 2017 at 5:02 p.m.

    Surely it's only a matter of time before we find out Rapert is addicted to prescription drugs

  • Happy1234
    January 26, 2017 at 5:19 p.m.

    Grow your own, roll your own and smoke your own.
    Lots of folk in the Natural State do.
    Leave the butt heads out of it.

  • BEARTRAP919
    January 26, 2017 at 6:28 p.m.

    Sen. Jason Rapert IS A total IDIOT. Yes, it sure looks that way, His Religious Views are something he needs to leave out of his Legislating, Actually I think Rapert and Hillary are a Lot alike, Maybe he got a lot of his Political Education watching Her, Hillary thought everything would be her way or the Highway, and the Highway was the Answer, The Highway is looking like this would be a great move for Jason Rapert .. And He needs to take his Monument with him as he goes.

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