For the second time this month, the Arkansas Senate on Monday rejected a bill to ban medical marijuana in the state.

Arkansas State Senators voted 15-10 on Monday against Sen. Bill 357 co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert.

“Smoking marijuana is harmful to public health and that Arkansas has spent millions of dollars to discourage people from smoking tobacco,” Rapert said, adding that he’s seen “no evidence of a medicinal value to smoking marijuana and that the smoking of pot is a recreational use.”

Opposing the bill, Republican State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson emphasized that the medical marijuana amendment approved by voters mandates that the Legislature may not amend its provisions legalizing medicinal use of marijuana “stalks, seeds, roots, dried leaves, flowers, oils, vapors, waxes and other portions of the marijuana plant and any mixture or preparation thereof.”

“The point is, they said we couldn’t touch it,” Hutchinson said.

 

What both sides of the debate may have missed are the dozens of studies on the health benefits of marijuana, including a report that marijuana compounds kill cancer cells.

[RELATED: MEDICARE PRESCRIPTIONS DROP AFTER MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZED]

Twenty-eight states, Washinton D.C., and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have already adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws that allow seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Eight states and D.C. have enacted laws making possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

Four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — have established systems for regulating the recreational production and sale of marijuana.

In Congress, proposed bill H.R.975 seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marijuana. Passage of this Act would halt federal officials from prosecuting individuals and businesses in the 29 states that permit either the medical or legalized decriminalization for adults to use and distribute marijuana lawfully – ending the raids on marijuana dispensaries and on private citizens in states that have voted to accept marijuana.

[RELATED: PROPOSED HOUSE BILL WOULD SEEK TO RESPECT INDIVIDUAL STATE’S MARIJUANA LAWS BARRING FEDERAL RAIDS]