A proposal to legalize marijuana in Arkansas for medicinal purposes will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election.
Arkansas for Compassionate Care, a group that has been petitioning for the measure, submitted the required 62,507 signatures needed to place the proposal on the ballot, and the office of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin certified the signatures Wednesday.
The group turned in over 65,000 signatures more than a month ago, but nearly 29,000 signatures were declared invalid, and thrown out by the secretary of state’s office. Organizers, however, had an extra 30 days to make up for the invalid names, and statewide efforts to collect the additional needed signatures were successful.
“Compassionate Care is an important issue for thousands of Arkansans and their families,” said Melissa Fults, treasurer for Arkansans for Compassionate Care. “This is something the people of Arkansas want to discuss. We’ve always been a leader in the South and now we’re the first one to put medical marijuana on the ballot and have a real discussion about it.”
If voters approve the act, Arkansas will join 17 other states and Washington D.C. in allowing doctors to write recommendations for marijuana to alleviate specified medical conditions. The Arkansas act is largely based on the medical marijuana law in Maine that passed in 2009.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act lists 15 specific chronic or life-threatening medical conditions for which marijuana could be recommended by a doctor: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s.
Only patients authorized by the Arkansas Department of Health would be allowed to purchase, carry and consume marijuana. The act limits the number of dispensaries statewide and requires all of them to be non-profit. Cities and counties that choose to do so would be allowed to ban dispensaries altogether.