Interpreting Arkansas’ Medical Marijuana Statute: An Uncertain Landscape for Employees and Employers Alike

Authored By: Robbin S Rahman

 Robbin S. Rahman is an attorney at the Barber Law Firm in Little Rock and has over 17 years of experience as a corporate lawyer helping businesses solve critical financial, operational and legal problems

Originally Published By Arkansas Lawyer

Introduction

On January 4, 2018, the United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, sent the marijuana industry into a panic. In a memorandum addressed to all U.S. Attorneys, Mr. Sessions reminded America that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and, in the process, rescinded the “Cole Memorandum,” an Obama-era directive to federal prosecutors to de-prioritize the prosecution of marijuana industry participants in states where it has been legalized. Importantly, the Cole Memorandum served as a sort of safe harbor around which much of the marijuana industry had been built. Whether intentional or not,1 the effect of Mr. Sessions’ memo was to dump a bit of cold water on an industry that, for the past several years, has enjoyed growing bipartisan support2 and an increasingly large footprint. For example, approximately 44 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam, have enacted laws permitting the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana in some form, culminating most recently in the launch of California’s fully legal recreational marijuana market on January 1, 2018.

In light of Mr. Session’s memo, the industry and the nation has been forced to turn their attention back to fundamental issues of federalism: whether the federal government’s authority to outlaw marijuana through its power to regulate interstate commerce remains superior to the powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment to protect the welfare, safety and health of the public.3 Against the backdrop of a potential Constitutional crisis, state regulators are making final preparations for Arkansas’ nascent medical marijuana industry to become a living, breathing reality.4 Very soon, the interpretation and application of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 (the “AMMA”) will be of critical importance to business owners, employees, regulators, lawyers and ordinary citizens. Nowhere are these issues more difficult and more important than in the Arkansas workplace. This article takes a brief look at the AMMA’s workplace provisions, how similar provisions have been addressed by courts in other states, and what such interpretations may mean for Arkansas.

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Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers

Cannabis Law Journal – Editorial Board Members

Editor – Sean Hocking

Author Bios

Canada
Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Nicaragua
Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena

USA

General
Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Arizona
Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

California
Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Colorado
Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Florida
Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

Illinois
William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Massachusetts
Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Nevada
Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Oregon
Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Pennsylvania
Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild