Arkansas voters might have not one, but two medical marijuana legalization measures to vote on this year, if competing efforts make a July 8 deadline to file enough petition signatures with the state.
Signature gatherers have fanned out across the state to collect enough names to put both “The 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act” and “The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016″ on the ballot.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care’s director Melissa Fults worries the competing efforts will split the vote and cause both to fail. According to reports, Arkansans for Compassionate Care has already gathered 70,000 valid signatures, which would be slightly more than than 67,887 needed to qualify “The 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act” for the ballot.
A Little Rock lawyer behind the second initiative says he’s gathered more than 40,000 signatures, but needs about 85,000 to qualify his proposed constitutional amendment, The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.
The southern region of the United States is the last hold-out as medical marijuana has spread to 25 states and 12 states have medical CBD protections. Arkansas narrowly rejected medical marijuana legalization in 2012.
Arkansas has no medical marijuana and really tough cannabis prohibition penalties like up to one year in jail for personal possession. You can get six years prison for a second personal possession charge.
“In addition to wasting law enforcement time on victimless marijuana offenses, marijuana enforcement has been extremely unequal in Arkansas. African Americans in Arkansas are over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana compared with whites, although both black and white populations consume marijuana at similar rates,” Marijuana Policy Project states.
In other news, Louisiana’s governor signed a bill shielding medical cannabis patients from prosecution, reports indicate.
Do you think competing medical legalization efforts will hurt each other in Arkansas this year?