- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he’s looking at an effort to legalize a limited form of marijuana for patients if two medical pot proposals fail in next month’s election, but has questions about how the alternate proposal would comply with federal law.

The Republican said he’s neutral on legislation Rep. Dan Douglas says he’ll introduce next year if voters reject the competing medical marijuana proposals. Douglas‘ proposal would legalize marijuana that is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which produces the euphoric state for users, but is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, for patients with certain conditions. CBD is a marijuana compound that has been used to treat seizures.

“I think it’s a model worth looking at and I’m totally open to it,” Hutchinson told reporters at the state Capitol. “I have asked my legal team to look at the question as to whether this will be consistent with federal law or a violation of federal law, and that’s an important factor to me.”

Supporters of the two medical marijuana ballot measures have said Douglas‘ proposal wouldn’t help enough patients and called his plan a ploy to try and defeat their initiatives next month. Hutchinson, a former head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, has been an outspoken opponent of the ballot measures.

The proposal from Douglas, who’s also Republican, would be more limited in who would have access to the drug and in what forms. According to a draft of the bill, it would be available for a handful of conditions such as seizures related to epilepsy or trauma-related head injuries and Crohn’s disease. But most of the conditions it covers, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, would only qualify if they were end-stage or severe. Cancer patients would only qualify if their diagnosis was end-stage or their treatment produced nausea, vomiting or wasting illness. The proposal would bar patients from smoking marijuana as a treatment.

Hutchinson stopped short of saying his support would hinge on whether Douglas‘ proposal complies with federal law.

“We will look at how it fits in with the controlled substances law at the federal level and how that works in terms of management and controls that we have in place at the federal level,” he said.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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