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Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (2014)

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The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act is not on the November 4, 2014 election ballot in Arkansas as an initiated state statute. Had the measure been approved by voters, medical marijuana would have been legalized in the state, allowing patients with certain medical conditions to obtain marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries.[1][2]

Background

See also: Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question, Issue 5 (2012)

In November 2012, Issue 5, which would have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in Arkansas, was defeated 51.44 percent to 48.56 percent. Due to the narrow margins, supporters of legalizing medical marijuana decided to try again in 2014.[1]

Two groups were attempting to land similar measures on a 2014 ballot: Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2014 and Arkansans for Responsible Medicine. Unlike the 2012 measure, neither 2014 proposal would have allowed patients to grow their own marijuana. The latter group decided to end their campaign for 2014 and, instead, focus on 2016.[2] According to Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2014, the two initiatives were similar, except the Arkansans for Responsible Medicine initiative did not contain a provision for hardship cultivation certification of low-income affordability.[3]

Text of measure

Popular title

The official popular title given to this initiative by the attorney general was "The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act."[4]

Ballot title

The following ballot title was approved for circulation by the attorney general:[5]

An act making the medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas state law, but acknowledging that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law; establishing a system for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries and granting those nonprofit dispensaries limited immunity; providing for hardship cultivation certificates allowing limited cultivation of marijuana by qualifying patients who are physically incapable of accessing reasonable transportation to a nonprofit dispensary and who meet other requirements or by the designated caregivers of such qualifying patients; allowing localities to limit the number of nonprofit dispensaries and to enact reasonable zoning regulations governing their operations; providing that qualifying patients, their designated caregivers and nonprofit dispensary agents shall not be subject to criminal or civil penalties or other forms of discrimination for engaging in or assisting with the qualifying patients’ medical use of marijuana; allowing compensation for designated caregivers; requiring that in order to become a qualifying patient, a person submit to the state a written certification from a physician licensed in the State of Arkansas that he or she is suffering from a qualifying medical condition; establishing an initial list of qualifying medical conditions; directing the Department of Health to establish rules related to the processing of applications for registry identification cards and hardship cultivation certificates, the operations of nonprofit dispensaries, and the addition of qualifying medical conditions if such additions will enable patients to derive therapeutic benefit from the medical use of marijuana; setting maximum registration fees for nonprofit dispensaries; directing the Department of Health to establish a system to provide affordable marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries to low income patients; establishing qualifications for registry identification cards; establishing standards to ensure that qualifying patient and designated caregiver registration information is treated as confidential; directing the Department of Health to provide the legislature annual quantitative reports about the medical marijuana program; setting certain limitations on the use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients; establishing an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana; establishing registration and operation requirements for nonprofit dispensaries; setting limits on the number of nonprofit dispensaries; setting limits on the amount of marijuana a nonprofit dispensary may cultivate and the amount of usable marijuana a nonprofit dispensary may dispense to a qualifying patient; prohibiting certain conduct by and imposing certain conditions and requirements on physicians, nonprofit dispensaries, nonprofit dispensary agents, qualifying patients, and designated caregivers; prohibiting felons from serving as designated caregivers, owners, board members, or officers of nonprofit dispensaries, or as nonprofit dispensary agents; allowing visiting qualifying patients suffering from qualifying medical conditions to utilize the medical marijuana program; and directing the sales tax revenues received from the sale of marijuana to cover the costs to the Department of Health for administering the medical marijuana program and fifty (50%) of the remainder to the Newborn Umbilical Cord Initiative Fund and fifty percent (50%) to drug education programs administered through the Department of Human Services.[6]

Support

Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2014, a spinoff of the group that sponsored the 2012 medical marijuana measure, was the primary sponsor of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.[7]

Supporters

The following individuals were part of the Arkansas for Compassionate Care 2014 campaign:[7]

  • Gary Melissa Fults, president
  • Melissa Fults, campaign director
  • Michael Cary, southwestern canvassing director
  • James Smith, signature gatherer

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas

For an initiated state statute, signatures equal to at least 8 percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election were required. Further, proponents had to collect signatures equaling at least 4 percent of the previous gubernatorial votes in at least 15 of the state's counties. For example, if 1,000 people voted for governor in a county, the signatures of 50 qualified electors would have been required. Therefore, supporters were required to collect at least 62,507 valid signatures by July 7, 2014 in order to land a measure on the ballot, but the exact number would have been determined, in part, by the signatures' counties of origin. No signatures were submitted by the prescribed deadline.

Similar measures

See also

External links

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