Medical marijuana initiative qualifies for the November ballot
Last update: July 7, 2016
On July 7, the Arkansas Secretary of State announced that Arkansans for Compassionate Care’s (ACC’s) medical marijuana initiative qualified for this November’s ballot. The measure, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, would allow seriously ill patients who have a certification from their doctor to obtain medical cannabis from nonprofit compassion centers. In addition, patients – or their licensed caregivers – could cultivate up to 10 cannabis plants at home provided they take steps to ensure it is secure. For a complete summary, please click here.
However, the measure is facing competition from a second initiative, and polling suggests that if both initiatives make the ballot, it’s almost certain that both will fail. Therefore, ACC is urging the competing campaign to end their signature drive and unite behind the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.
If you can volunteer to help work towards reform, you can visit ACC’s webpage to sign up and get involved in this important effort. With your support, 2016 may be the year that voters approve medical marijuana in the Natural State.
Current law is one of the harshest nationwide
Arkansas has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation, but despite increasing interest around the country for improvements to marijuana laws, the Arkansas Legislature has shown little interest in changing its cannabis laws. Possessing less than four ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Possessing an ounce of marijuana or more by those who have twice been convicted of possession is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.
Let your lawmakers know it’s long past time for a more proportionate and fiscally sound approach to marijuana. Twenty states — including Mississippi, North Carolina, and Missouri — have decriminalized or legalized marijuana. Ask your legislators to impose a civil fine on marijuana possession or to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
In 2012, there were at least 5,718 marijuana arrests in Arkansas. Of those arrests, over 90% were for marijuana possession. During the same year, 91% of all reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Law enforcement should stop wasting time on marijuana-related offenses and use its resources to stop real crime.
In addition to wasting law enforcement time on victimless marijuana offenses, marijuana enforcement has been extremely unequal in Arkansas. African Americans in Arkansas are over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana compared with whites, although both black and white populations consume marijuana at similar rates. To learn more about how the war on marijuana can be used to discriminate against African Americans in the U.S. and in Arkansas, check out the ACLU’s recent report.
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