Marijuana panel planned; GOP to fill Gossage seat

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 231 views 

Supporters of the two marijuana proposals that will be on the ballot, who oppose each other, and the state’s surgeon general, who opposes both, will appear in a panel discussion Oct. 18 in Bentonville. Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Arkansas has set a date to pick a candidate to replace a state legislator who has been named one of the governor’s deputy chiefs of staff.

The panel discussion involving David Couch, sponsor of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment; Melissa Fults, sponsor of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act; and Dr. Greg Bledsoe, state surgeon general, will be 1-3 p.m. Oct. 18 at the NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

The two proposals would allow marijuana for medicinal use but differ in several key ways, the biggest one being that the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act allows patients who live too far from a dispensary to grow their own plants.

Jon Comstock, an attorney and mediator who is organizing and will moderate the discussion, said the three have confirmed they would participate. Comstock said a fourth panel member from a state with legalized medical marijuana could be invited. The event will include questions from the audience. He has organized other such discussions under the trade name “NWA Public Discussion.”

In other news, the Republican Party of Arkansas Executive Committee has set a convention date of Sept. 21 for county delegates to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Bill Gossage, who was appointed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s deputy chief of staff for external operations.

Gossage was unopposed in his race, so the selectee will be the only ballot in the Nov. 8 general election and will take office in January. The convention will meet at 7 p.m. at the Arkansas Tech campus in Ozark and include delegates from Franklin, Madison and Crawford Counties.

The filing period is from noon Wednesday until noon Sept. 14 at the RPA’s headquarters in Little Rock. The filing fee is $3,000. Doyle Webb, Republican Party of Arkansas chairman, said Sarah Capp of Ozark and Bobby Ballinger of Altus are expected to file. Others could also file for the seat.