Medical marijuana is just weeks away from cultivating in Northwest Arkansas and this could change the way local law enforcement handles traffic stops.
With medical marijuana dispensaries now open in the natural state, patients will be transporting it around the state, so what are the laws?
“Any patient with a medical marijuana patient card has the ability under Amendment 98 to maintain on their person or in their car, 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at any given time,” says Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission.
If you get pulled over with it in your car, Hardin says you don’t have to alert an officer that you have it on you.
“Not necessarily a requirement on the front end but certainly would be smart and we encourage all Arkansans if they have a patient card keep that card on them at all times. You never know when you might need it or there’s a question,” says Hardin.
The Arkansas Beverage Control (ABC) is now in full force to train law enforcement around the state
“We’ll be saying, “if you have a dispensary in your community here’s what’s allowed, here’s what’s not allowed. Here’s what’s allowed on the patient side,” says Hardin.
Training includes how to handle traffic stops, like the signs to look for someone who may be under the influence, and what patients must carry on them.
According to Arkansas law, if a patient is driving with marijuana in their car they must have a valid patient card, valid Arkansas state ID and 2.5 ounces or less in the vehicle.
The state recommends having marijuana in the original packaging as well.
If a patient owns more than 2.5 ounces, Hardin says to leave the rest at home. If you have over the legal amount in your car it could mean trouble.
Even though you have a valid patient card, driving under the influence is illegal.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA) does not permit a person to operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, while under the influence of marijuana.
“The amendment was designed to allow each Arkansas to maintain the product on them so our hope is that it’s not an issue and that’s why these trainings are so important around the state,” says Hardin.
Hardin says training with local law enforcement should be within the next couple of weeks before some of the dispensaries open in summer 2019.
State police remind drivers, no matter how you obtain the drug always remember, “drive high-get a DWI.”