Arkansas lawmaker behind anti-MMJ smoking bill took tobacco cash

The Arkansas state senator behind a bill that would would bar patients from smoking medical marijuana under the state’s new MMJ law has accepted campaign money from tobacco companies.

State Sen. Jason Rapert cited health factors as the reason behind his anti-smoking legislation targeting medical cannabis.

“Universally, in the public health community, people will tell you that you should not smoke,” Rapert, a Republican, told the Associated Press in explaining why he introduced the anti-smoking measure.

According to, Rapert accepted campaign contributions of $4,750 from “tobacco companies and tobacco product sales,” including a $1,750 contribution from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

Rapert did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Historically, tobacco industry executives have viewed marijuana as both a potential opportunity and a possible threat.

Rapert’s anti-smoking bill won approval Wednesday as part of a legislative package passed by a state senate committee that would prohibit the smoking, eating or drinking of MMJ.

The state senator also proposed a bill that would have stopped the launch of the Arkansas program until the federal government legalized medical marijuana. But the committee did not pass that measure, the AP reported.

Any changes to the Arkansa medical cannabis program would require a two-thirds vote in both the state House and Senate.