Initially, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA)—supported by the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance—made the ballot after submitted more than 117,000 signatures. But an attorney who’s a lifetime member of NORML’s Legal Committee, Kara Benca, challenged the validity of some of the signatures, and on Oct. 28, after voting had already begun, the Arkansas Supreme Court invalidated 12,000 signatures and removed AMCA (Question 7) from the ballot.
Issue 7 would have allow patients and caregivers to possess 2.5 pounces. Patients who live more than 20 miles away from a dispensary could grow up to 10 plants under the “hardship cultivation clause.” More than 50 qualifying medical conditions were included, such as ADD, bipolar disorder, insomnia, lupus, migraines and PTSD. Patients and caregivers would register with the Arkansas Department of Health. Non-profit cannabis care centers would dispense the marijuana.
A new trend for safe-access laws is to include specific provisions for low-income patients. States that operate restrictive systems often end up with expensive products, which is why “affordable dispensing” is included in Issue 7. In addition, it contains strong workplace and parental protections for patients.
Opposition to Issue 7 started at the top with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who ran the DEA under George W. Bush. The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Family Council Action Committee have sued to stop the ballot measure. The competing measure, Question 6, was also certified for the ballot. It’s a less developed plan that leaves significant parts of the law up to the Arkansas legislature, the Department of Health and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; calls for home growing and more aggressive taxes; and provides no real safeguards for low-in-come patients.
Though NORML has disavowed any support for Benca’s actions, their legal counsel Keith Stroup tells Weed News: “Now that the voters will have only one medical use initiative on the ballot, the likelihood of that initiative being approved should be greater.” – Chris Goldstein
This is part of Freedom Leaf’s 2016 State-By-State Ballot Initiative Guide.