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Circulation approved for Arkansas medical marijuana question after multiple rejections

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April 20, 2011


By Al Ortiz

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: After trying to gain approval of ballot language at least three times, supporters of a potential medical marijuana ballot question finally got clearance for petition circulation on April 18, 2011. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued his opinion of the ballot language that same day. Since the ballot initiative has been approved for signature collection, supporters must now obtain at least 62,507 signatures from registered voters by July 6, 2012 in order to get the measure on the 2012 ballot. The measure is an initiated state statute, which means the required amount of signatures equals to at least 6% of the total number of votes cast for governor.

The proposal has been through a long road leading up to its circulation approval, as on February 25, 2011, McDaniel rejected a submitted version of the ballot language, saying that it was too ambiguous.

The proposal was submitted again by supporters, but was once more rejected on March 14, 2011, and then again on March 30, 2011. In the latest dismissal, McDaniel stated in his opinion to the group, "Your use of the word ‘legal’ fails to acknowledge that your proposed measure cannot completely legalize marijuana in Arkansas for medical purposes because the drug remains illegal under federal law." In response, the newly approved ballot language closes: "...acknowledging that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law."

This is not the first time a medical marijuana initiative sought ballot access in the state, as a 2010 proposal crossed the desk of the Attorney General for circulation approval. However, on January 4, 2010, it was deemed invalid.

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