TEXARKANA, Ark. — Members of the local law enforcement community met for medical marijuana training Tuesday as city officials consider developing an ordinance that spells out related policy.
Trainers from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Commission — the agency charged with enforcing medical marijuana business regulations — gave a presentation to police officers and prosecution personnel in the Bi-State Justice Building, one of multiple such meetings they are conducting statewide as legal access to the drug becomes a reality.
News reporters were allowed to observe the beginning of the meeting but were asked to leave before any sensitive information was shared. Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department Sgt. Rick Cockrell was available to answer questions.
"An ordinance has been written," Cockrell said about new city law enforcement policy regarding medical marijuana. But City Manager Kenny Haskin said it remains to be seen whether a new ordinance is necessary.
"We are still trying to determine whether we need this ordinance or not. The city attorney is looking at it as we speak. If it is applicable, I will bring it before the board in a few weeks," Haskin said.
Regardless of whether the city Board of Directors takes formal action, TAPD's goals are to eliminate any confusion among law enforcement and the public and to establish a consistent set of policies so all citizens are treated equally, Cockrell said.
Some policies are already clear. Medical marijuana patients will have to keep their state registration cards with them at all times, and under no circumstances will taking cannabis across the state line into Texas be tolerated. Current law and policy on driving while intoxicated will apply to medical marijuana users, Cockrell said.
State law also restricts patients' use of medical marijuana. A doctor must certify that a patient has one of about 20 qualifying medical conditions — including cancer, severe arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder — before they can receive a registration card. Patients must buy medical marijuana from dispensaries and cannot grow their own. Qualified registered patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces from a dispensary every 14 days. Using cannabis is prohibited in public or around children.
TAPD is anticipating patients traveling to Texarkana from across Southwest Arkansas to purchase medical marijuana.
The state Medical Marijuana Commission divided Arkansas into eight geographical zones and licensed up to four dispensaries in each. Miller County is in Zone 8, a region of Southwest Arkansas that also includes Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Sevier and Union counties.
Two of Zone 8's dispensaries are planned for Texarkana, one for El Dorado and the fourth for Arkadelphia. Owners of Texarkana's dispensaries plan to open them in September, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday, based on documents acquired from the MMC.
A company called RX MED Inc., based in Monticello, Ark., plans to open a dispensary in the Electric Cowboy building at 4423 E. Broad St. Bloom Medicinals AR LLC, a Florida-based company, plans to open a dispensary in the Vincent's Fine Wine and Liquor building at 410 Realtor Ave.
Public records show that Bloom Medicinals paid the city's required $7,500 license fee in February and RX MED did so in July. Neither company has responded to repeated requests for interviews.