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After at least two unsuccessful attempts, a bill that would require Arkansans to hold 60 percent ownership in medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities cleared a Senate committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1371, sponsored by Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, and Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, is intended to clarify language in the voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that legalized medical marijuana in the state. Voters approved that amendment in November.

Amendment 98 requires 60 percent of the facilities owners to be Arkansans, but it doesn't specify what share of the businesses' ownership Arkansans must hold.

Opponents of HB1371 said it would stymie investment and violates the provision in the U.S. Constitution giving Congress authority over interstate commerce.

[BILL TRACKER: See the status of all marijuana-related bills in Arkansas Legislature]

Irvin said the attorney general's office found the bill to be constitutional.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee approved HB1371 in a voice vote, with only Sen. Jim Cooper, R-Jonesboro, audibly voting no.

The terms of Amendment 98 allow many of its provisions to be changed with approval by a two-thirds majority of each chamber of the Legislature.

The House last month approved HB1371 with a vote of 83-1, with 16 members not voting.

A Section on 03/22/2017

Print Headline: Pot facilities ownership bill advances


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