Several competing medical marijuana bills are expected to qualify for the November ballot in Arkansas. Signatures for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act have already been approved. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment is currently in the process of being verified at the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) gathered 77,516 verified signatures which were approved by Secretary of State Mark Martin. Supporters behind the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act have already asked those behind the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment to concede.
“Today, as we turn toward November, I’m asking Jason Polk and David Couch to end their campaign and join us to ensure sick and dying Arkansans get the most patient-oriented initiative we can,” implored ACC Director Melissa Fults. “Please do not place thousands of sick and dying Arkansans’ future in jeopardy. Patients need safe and legal access to cannabis and if you continue we risk losing the best chance that we’ve ever had. Placing two initiatives on the ballot will cause both to fail.”
As a proposed act, the ACC’s bill needed 67,887 validated signatures in order to qualify for the ballot. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment, as an amendment, requires 84,859 validated signatures in order to qualify.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act is being touted as a bill for patients, by patients. Under the proposed amendment patients living more than 20 miles away from a care center could qualify for a Hardship Cultivation Certificate that would allow them to grow five seedlings at home. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act would also help accommodate low-income families also by setting prices on a sliding scale.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health announced that they would not be supporting either medical marijuana initiative this November. If Arkansas voters pass the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act this fall, it will make the Department of Health the regulatory agency over the state’s proposed medical marijuana program.
“The Arkansas Department of Health will not be voting on our initiative this fall, quipped members of the ACC. “Rather, the people of Arkansas will determine whether patients who have not found relief from pharmaceutical drugs should, with the approval of their doctors, be able to use medical cannabis instead.”
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment, on the other hand, would create an entirely new commission to oversee medical cannabis, appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Arkansas will not vote on recreational marijuana this election cycle. The Arkansas Hemp and Marijuana Legalization Amendment would have legalized all forms of the cannabis plant for adults over the age of 21, but failed to gather enough signatures to qualify as an initiated constitutional amendment.
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