Residents in Arkansas may have something to look forward to in the next general election if a new initiative gets enough signatures to get it onto the ballot in 2016.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC), a group of patients, doctors, nurses, citizens and allies, have been given the green light on moving forward with the 2016 Medical Cannabis Act. In August, the attorney general certified the wording on the ballot title and the organization began gathering signatures at the beginning of this month.
This is a big morale booster for the group, which has major problems getting its plans into motion in the past. Earlier this year, ACC was unable to qualify the initiative for the 2014 because they weren’t able to get enough signatures. According to reports, they collected almost 80 percent of their goal, but just didn’t complete the task in enough time to submit it to the secretary of state.
Melissa Fults, campaign director for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, wasn’t deterred from giving it another go.
“Our volunteers have done an amazing job, but we just didn’t have enough time or funding — and we faced some unique challenges — starting with crafting a stronger initiative that protects patients and the state better,” said Fults.
This time around, ACC is upping the ante and really pushing to get the new initiative on the ballot in 2016. They were able to assemble more than 600 volunteers to canvas statewide in hopes of qualifying the initiative, which now has more qualifying medical conditions and offers an affordability clause as well as a hardship cultivation clause.
Under the 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, patients will have access to cannabis at what the state is referring to as non-profit cannabis centers. If there aren’t cannabis centers located within 20 miles of a patient, they can apply for a hardship cultivation certificate, which will legally allow them to grow up to 10 plants. Patients within 20 miles of a cannabis center won’t be allowed to grow marijuana, but can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
Registered non-profit cannabis centers will legally be able to manufacture, sell and deliver cannabis that has been lab-tested. Locations must be more than 1,000 feet from a school and will need to adhere to strict tracking, security and health regulations. There is a $5,000 fee to apply for a license with a renewal fees up to $1,000 thereafter.
Qualifying patients must have a doctor’s certificate confirming their status as a sufferer of one of the accepted illnesses and submit an application along with a fee, which is currently not specified in the act but is planned not to exceed $50. Patients will only be allowed to consume what is being called “usable cannabis,” meaning oils, lotions, salves and edibles are not covered under the initial language of the initiative.
Locals interested in helping out with the effort can sign up to train to become a volunteer on the ACC website.
Do you think the initiative will make it onto the 2016 ballot? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.