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Arkansas voters pass medical marijuana amendment

by Austin Cannon | November 8, 2016 at 11:35 p.m.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment passed Tuesday night, making the use of medical marijuana legal for some Arkansans.

The race was called at 11:30 p.m. As of that time, there were 509,057 votes tallied for and 458,116 against.

Under the amendment, the Arkansas Department of Health will issue registration cards to qualifying patients while the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division will oversee the dispensaries and growing facilities. After approval from their doctors, patients will be able to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of the drug from a dispensary every two weeks.

Glaucoma, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s disease are some of the “qualified medical conditions” listed in the amendment. Patients with a pain-causing sicknesses that haven’t responded to treatment for more than six months are also eligible.

With the amendment, the health department can approve medical-marijuana treatment for other illnesses. Issue 6 will also allow the government to issue 20 to 40 medical-marijuana dispensary licenses and four to eight cultivation facility licenses.

The Arkansas Supreme Court removed the other medical-marijuana measure from the ballot, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, on Oct. 27, saying the proposal didn’t obtain the required number of valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. It contained a “grow your own” provision that’s absent within the amendment.

Four years ago, Arkansas voters rejected legalizing medical marijuana. This election, the campaign backed by the Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana overcame opposition that included Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the majority of the state Legislature.

Jerry Cox, the president of the Family Council and a vocal opponent of Issue 6, said Tuesday night that the fight will continue in the Arkansas General Assembly.

"This fight is not over," he said in a news release.

He said in the release that legislation could prevent "marijuana advertising" and "define what it means to be impaired."

Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Gregory Bledsoe, another opponent of the measure, said Tuesday night that he was "obviously" disappointed the amendment passed. He said he was told medical-marijuana proponents out-raised the opposition by a little over $1 million.

"It would've been a shock if it hadn't passed," he said, adding that he was surprised how close the margin was.

Bledsoe said he would have to sit down with lawmakers and health department officials beginning Wednesday to start planning a responsible implementation of the amendment.

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


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