The Arkansas Municipal League wrapped up its winter conference Friday in Fort Smith with a few words from state legislators and Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
State Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, spoke to city officials from all over the state about what medical marijuana laws may mean for cities. House was initially opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana, but when voters passed it, he said he had to look at how to implement the law.
"I had to basically dig into the books and start talking to people — what does it take for this system to work?" he said. "And I had to unlearn what I had believed and been taught all my life. I was a military man. I kicked soldiers out of the service for testing positive. That's how much I hated this stuff. It turns out a lot of what I've been taught, what you've been taught, is an absolute lie — and that's the honest-to-God truth in my opinion."
House said cannabis is shown to have medical benefits, especially for cancer patients. He expected most cultivation facilities where medical marijuana is grown will be outside of city limits while dispensaries would likely be within city limits. Cities may put sales tax on them.
"This is evolving," House said. "We should know something about who's going to get the permits and where they're going to be located by the 27th of next month. It's a learning process. I'm still going to oppose marijuana for recreational purposes. I see too many social costs."
Hutchinson addressed conference attendees, largely made up of city council and boards of directors members, mayors and other city leaders, wrapping up the three-day event.
"It is good to be in Fort Smith today," Hutchinson said. "Fort Smith, of course is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It's an exciting time and what a great, great city to be enjoying this conference."
Hutchinson spoke of the recent news that Arkansas has asked for a waiver to put in place a work requirement for Medicaid.
"It applies to those that are able-bodied that do not have dependent children at home. If they need worker training, it will be provided. If they need job search help, it's going to be provided, and so, I think this will be good for Arkansas. It will be good helping to move people to work," he said.