Medical Marijuana Initiative Approved for Arkansas Ballot
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, a proposed law that would allow allow Arkansans with qualifying conditions to purchase marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries with a doctor’s recommendation, was approved for the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot in Arkansas. If voters pass the initiative, Arkansas will become the first southern state to legalize medical marijuana.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care, a coalition of citizens supporting the act, fell 26,000 certified signatures short of the 62,507 required in July 2012, but submitted 74,406 certified signatures on Aug. 20, 2012 to the Secretary of State’s office in its second try.
Ryan Denhem, campaign director for the ballot initiative, stated: “It’s common sense. It’s time to have a policy like this in Arkansas… If that passes, it will allow patients a safe environment – a tightly regulated, controlled environment – to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor’s supervision.”
Qualifying conditions for patients to purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and several other conditions. The proposal also would allow qualifying patients or a designated caregiver to grow up to six flowering marijuana plants if the patient lives more than five miles away from a dispensary. Patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time.
The conservative Arkansas Family Council said in a statement opposing the ballot initiative: “This proposal violates federal law. Marijuana is illegal. This proposal admits that states do not have the ability to change that law… Federal DEA agents frequently bust medical marijuana operations in states where they exist, such as California. Putting Arkansas in the middle of all of this just doesn’t make sense. Why would we want to pass a law that blatantly violates federal law? Why would we invite that kind of turmoil to Arkansas?”
Massachusetts voters will join Arkansas in deciding whether or not to legalize medical marijuana via ballot initiative on Nov. 6, 2012. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana, and seven states have pending legislation.
Since 1996, medical marijuana ballot initiatives have passed in every state in which they have been introduced, except for South Dakota which rejected medical marijuana in 2006 and 2010.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care, “Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act Language,” arcompassion.org (accessed Aug. 23, 2012)
Ballotpedia, “Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question (2012),” ballotpedia.org (accessed Aug. 23, 2012)
Andrew DeMillo, “Medical Marijuana Measure OK’d for Ark. Ballot,” Associated Press, Aug. 22, 2012
KARK 4 News, “Update: Medical Marijuana to Appear on November Ballot in Arkansas,” ozarksfirst.com, Aug. 23, 2012
Medical MJ News, “Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Makes Ballot,” medicalmj.org (accessed Aug. 23, 2012)