HOT SPRINGS — The Hot Springs Board of Directors will consider an ordinance Tuesday night allowing the city to forgo permitting or licensing medical marijuana enterprises for 180 days.
City Attorney Brian Albright told directors last week that final rules have yet to be developed for the implementation of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, now known as Amendment 98, which takes effect July 1. Until rule-making is complete, Albright said the rules for local governments are unclear.
The citizen-initiated amendment making the regulated medical use of marijuana legal in Arkansas garnered 53.1 percent of the vote in November, slightly above the Garland County vote of 52.5 percent. Proposed rules developed by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission authorize it to license 32 dispensaries and five cultivation facilities. The commission is expected to begin accepting applications next month.
“Without having any guidelines for us to follow, we’re asking the board to give us enough breathing time in order to digest what the state comes to us with,” he told directors. “We don’t have any rules from them yet, so we can’t promulgate rules ourselves.”
The ordinance also states that medical marijuana facilities built or maintained during the moratorium will not be exempt from subsequent regulations the city may impose on the activity.
Planning and Development Director Kathy Sellman said the city is receiving multiple calls a day from parties interested in bringing a dispensary or cultivation facility to Hot Springs. A Little Rock group expressed its interest to the Garland County Quorum Court last month, explaining that more than a quarter of the county’s population has one of the 17 conditions qualifying for medical-marijuana use.
Local legislative bodies such as boards of directors, city councils and quorum courts are prohibited from enacting ordinances that would prohibit dispensaries and cultivation facilities