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Medical marijuana act cleared for vote in Arkansas after signatures validated

By Brian Fanney

This article was published July 7, 2016 at 10:53 a.m.

arkansans-for-compassionate-care-campaign-director-melissa-fults-right-celebrates-as-leslie-bellamy-of-the-secretary-of-states-office-stamps-paperwork-for-petitions-that-fults-group-delivered-in-june-in-hopes-of-getting-a-medical-marijuana-initiative-on-the-ballot

Arkansans for Compassionate Care campaign director Melissa Fults (right) celebrates as Leslie Bellamy of the secretary of state’s office stamps paperwork for petitions that Fults’ group delivered in June in hopes of getting a medical-marijuana initiative on the ballot.

An initiated act aimed at legalizing medical marijuana has been cleared for a popular vote Nov. 8.

The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act received enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot, Melissa Fults, campaign manager for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said in an interview Thursday.

Kerry Baldwin, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, confirmed that the group did meet the threshold to make the ballot.

But a competing medical marijuana proposal will continue to be a challenge for her group, Fults said.

“We’re not going to give up. We’re going to continue to fight,” she said. “The chances of either one passing with both on there, it’s slim.”

Arkansans for Compassionate Care submitted the petitions, bearing about 117,000 signatures, June 20. Since then, about 40 temporary workers and about 10 secretary of state office staff members have been checking those signatures in Little Rock’s Victory Building.

The group needed 67,887 valid signatures from a variety of counties. Fults said 77,516 signatures were valid.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care was one of six groups — each with a proposed initiated act or constitutional amendment — vying for inclusion on the November ballot. Signatures are due Friday.

David Couch, a Little Rock-based attorney, is backing a rival constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana but is different in its approach.

He has said he will have enough signatures to make the deadline for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

Couch worked with Fults on a proposed 2012 medical-marijuana measure that fell just short of approval by voters. After the election, the two split over a “grow-your-own” provision, and they pursued separate proposals for this election year.

Under Fults’ proposal, a patient with a “Hardship Cultivation Certificate” would be allowed to grow up to 10 cannabis plants in an enclosed, locked facility. A caregiver would be allowed to cultivate the plants.

Couch said the state is not ready for the grow-your-own provision. He said his proposal focuses on security.

His proposed amendment does not specify how dispensaries can be run, but it would limit the number to 40 in the state. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration would inspect the dispensaries.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 total comments

FayFan says... July 7, 2016 at 12:52 p.m.

"Under Fults’ proposal, a patient with a “Hardship Cultivation Certificate” would be allowed to grow up to 10 cannabis plants in an enclosed, locked facility. A caregiver would be allowed to cultivate the plants.

Couch said the state is not ready for the grow-your-own provision. He said his proposal focuses on security."

As I see it, Fults wants to help people who would benefit from medicinal marijuana whereas Couch wants to set up a corporate monopoly that grows and markets the stuff.

Compassion vs. greed.

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hurricane46 says... July 7, 2016 at 1:17 p.m.

What? no comments from that fine "Christian" Jerry Cox.

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dandytech says... July 7, 2016 at 5:08 p.m.

I find the concept insulting - they want to legalize it like alcohol fine, just stop the lie that it's "medical" ... really? If it’s such a great pharmaceutical put it in a pill – don’t expect me to believe you can control the dose rolled in some paper and filling your lungs and the air around you with carbon and other poisons – it is a lie.

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NoUserName says... July 7, 2016 at 6:07 p.m.

it IS available as a pill, dope.

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jjordan says... July 7, 2016 at 9:01 p.m.

.... A pill that is too costly since most insurance won't cover and not nearly as effective as the real deal. Dandy, it's the only thing that saved my loved one with cancer by giving pain relief and restoring appetite. The whole lack of dose control argument was no issue either. It damn sure is a medical thing in my book. We lived it...

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RBBrittain says... July 7, 2016 at 10:37 p.m.

@hurricane46: Why ask Jerry Cox when we all know he'll just repeat Nancy Reagan's answer?

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RBBrittain says... July 7, 2016 at 10:45 p.m.

KATV's article on the petition includes a lengthy response from Jerry Cox, but like I said it boils down to "just say no". ;)

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