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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Makes the Ballot

Arkansas will become the first southern state to vote directly on whether to okay the use of medical marijuana.
 
 
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An Arkansas initiative to legalize medical marijuana appears has qualified for the November ballot, state officials announced Monday. After a first round of signature-gathering came up short, the group sponsoring the initiative, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, redoubled its efforts, turning in some 74,000 signatures in a bid to come up with the 26,000 additional valid voter signatures it needed to qualify. That did the trick.

"Our office verified over 69,000 signatures for Arkansans for Compassionate care," the secretary of state's office announced Monday afternoon. The group needed more than 62,000 valid signatures to qualify.

That means Arkansas will become the first southern state to vote directly on whether to okay the use of medical marijuana. Voter initiatives to legalize medical marijuana have never failed, with one exception: South Dakota, which twice turned them back.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act would allow patients suffering from specified diseases or medical conditions to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. It envisions a system of state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries, and would allow patients or their caregivers to grow their own only if they are not within five miles of a dispensary. In that case, patients could grow up to six flowering plants. Patients could possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana.

Seventeen states and the District of Colombia already recognize the medical use of marijuana. Voters in Arkansas will by joined by voters in Massachusetts in deciding in November whether to join the ranks of the medical marijuana states.

 

Little Rock, AR
United States

 

Phillip Smith is editor of the Alternet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.