West Memphis passes medical marijuana ordinance
Police now have policy to follow for prescription pot users
By JOHN RECH
It wasn’t too long ago that a police officer knew exactly what to do when they made a traffic stop and smelled marijuana in the vehicle. Officers maintained probable cause to search the vehicle and if they found any amount of cannabis they made an arrest. West Memphis City council approved a medical marijuana ordinance that put a bite on improper use of the prescribed substance.
Permission came from the state for three medical marijuana dispensaries in West Memphis. Body and Mind Cannabis has already opened on OK St. just north of Broadway. Two other dispensaries are deep into construction with Interstate frontage. THC RX was set at 3799 I-40 frontage road near Southern Tire. Delta Cannabis was approved for 1151 East Service road near the hotels on Seventh Street. All three dispensaries will cater to those with an Arkansas Medical marijuana card and have provisions in place to sell to medically qualified out of state patients.
West Memphis police failed to make charges stick after arresting a qualified medical marijuana user in April of 2020. Thomas Burnette, Sr. was pulled over for a missing light over his license plate. The officer smelled marijuana. Burnette provided his medical marijuana card and consented to the vehicle search. Officers arrested him after finding 1.5 grams in a clear bag.
West Memphis police found no teeth in the marijuana laws, but with all three dispensaries on the verge of opening in the city, The council passed the new ordinance on an emergency clause. The measure took effect May 7.
“What medical marijuana patients need to understand
See MARIJUANA, page A3 MARIJUANA
From page A1
is that if they even if they have authorization to use the drug, they must know what is permissible and what is not,” said Assistant Police Chief Robert Langston.
“We don’t want smoking in the parks and the medical marijuana act made that illegal but there were just no penalties behind it,” said Langston. “We wanted a remedy. We didn’t want it to become a problem and have no way to deal with it. Driving and smoking marijuana is against the law. Patients must keep the prescription in a tamper proof container.”
Fines fell in line with other city ordinances and escalate with each finding of guilt.
“Fines are $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, then $750 and $1,000 for third and fourth,” said Langston. “There is no jail time for medical marijuana patients. We are not going to seize their prescription because a doctor has told them they need it.”
Dispensaries were highly regulated by the state.
“I don’t think we will have a problem with this,” said Langston. “But if we do, we have something in place.”