JPD: No labels needed for MMJ – but containers required

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Original packaging no longer required in Jonesboro but a “child-proof container” must still be utilized, said JPD chief

JONESBORO, Ark. – Jonesboro Police Department has announced that, despite previous statements to the contrary, there are no label requirements for storing or transferring medical marijuana for MMJ cardholders and their officers are to consider this the policy as of Friday, May 31, 2019.

Child-proof containers are to be required, JPD said. This requirement promises to bring more questions and debate to be hashed out.

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Latest Interpretation

The change was quietly revealed to the public 10 minutes before 5 PM Monday evening, June 3, via the JPD Facebook page, with a generic link to Jonesboropolice.com. Once there, the reader had to navigate to news releases to find the press release. The direct link to the actual release is here.

The first several items state that the MMJ card is an affirmative defense for possession of marijuana unless done so outside of the rules of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

Once under item 5, the policy changes are most noticeable.

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The new policy was sent out to officers on Friday, May 31, as superseding previous statements by the CCSO and JPD. Police Chief Rick Elliott, who previously said labeled containers were required, confirmed the policy change. He said after meeting with the city attorney, the latest interpretation was agreed upon.

“The best interpretation is that being in the original container is not required but being in child-proof packaging is,” said Monday night, June 3.

“What if people have no children?” We asked.

“I’m assuming so,” Elliott said. “That’s a good question.”

Elliott said most instances will be case by case but added that, even if an MMJ card-holding patient did not have children, that they should have it in a child-proof container. He said children might come over with an adult or through some other means come into contact with the controlled substance.

The police chief acknowledged there is no legal definition for what a child-proof container is. He called that the “million-dollar question subject to interpretation.” While he didn’t have a definitive answer, he said in theory, an empty pill bottle with a tab someone pushes down before twisting open would meet the definition.

“There’s not really a criminal penalty if not,” Elliott said. “Could you take a chance on losing your license? Maybe. But there’s not a way to enforce a lot of that.”

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There are no labeling requirements for patients under current law as first reported by NEA Report.

The police chief hopes patients will go above and beyond and keep it in containers if they can. His hope, as he has said before, is for the public to be patient with his officers. He signaled that his department would be willing to work internally to handle any incorrect charges so long as the subject was respectful. He acknowledged this is new and that there are some gray areas.

“As time goes on, and we look at legislation, we may need to clean up things,” Elliott said.

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