Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that contradictions between state and federal law regarding medical marijuana usage will ultimately be a decision that federal prosecutors must reconcile. In the interim, Rutledge is advising state lawmakers to follow through with their duties to incorporate a voter-approved amendment into Arkansas code.
Rutledge, who appeared on Talk Business & Politics on Sunday, explained her first opinion request on the medical marijuana dilemma.
“Essentially, what the opinion says is that while marijuana use, possession, is still illegal under federal law, that that question of whether or not charges would be brought is up to the federal prosecutors, that’s not up to Arkansas,” she said. A second opinion request has been put forth to the Attorney General, in essence, asking if state legislators can restrict the use of medical marijuana to prevent smoking it as a form of medicinal intake.
Rutledge said her office is still researching the question, but would apply a similar analysis to the previous request in drawing a conclusion.
“What we’ll look at is, essentially, very much what we looked at with regard to Representative House’s opinion request: what is required of the General Assembly, should they move forward, yes they should. Will it likely be in violation or prosecution would likely fail or be successful? I don’t know what the federal prosecutor is going to do, so I can’t answer that.”
Rutledge also weighed in on a series of executive orders issued by President Donald Trump over the last week. She said that his order to restrict federal agency regulations without administration review would have the most impact on Arkansas.
“I think that President Trump’s pulling back all regulations, directing these federal agencies to not move forward with regulations whether they have been sent to be published, whether they’re in draft form, in order to get his administration the opportunity to look at these and to see if they’re necessary and over-reaching,” she said would be beneficial to Arkansas industry.
Rutledge said she views Trump’s executive order strategy as different than former President Obama’s, which she frequently criticized.
“As the attorney general, you are absolutely right. I was very upset any time President Obama would use an executive order to go beyond the scope of the authority given to him as president. And basically, he was trying to stand in the place of Congress,” she said. “These executive orders by the president are not doing that. If this president, and any president, goes beyond the scope of his or her authority, then we would push back on it. But that’s what President Obama did. He was constantly going beyond the scope. The agencies were, whether it was the EPA, the Department of Labor, which we were very successful in putting a hold on the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, which was gone into effect in December. We had some big wins, and it was because the courts recognized that President Obama went beyond the scope of his authority.”
Watch Rutledge’s full interview below:
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Arkansas voters took to the ballot box in November to put in place a medical marijuana program. They did so in the form of a Constitutional Amendment. But that doesn’t mean the state Legislature can't have something to say about it.
State Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican representing Conway and Bigelow talked to KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman about a bill to stop the program from going into effect unless the federal government legalizes medicinal use first.