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Arkansas Activists Submit Signatures To Put Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative On November Ballot



Arkansas activists say they have turned in more than enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot that would significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program and also make it so the state would automatically legalize recreational cannabis if the federal government enacts that broader reform.

On Friday, Arkansans for Patient Access (APA) submitted 111,402 signatures for the cannabis initiative that were collected across 62 counties. The campaign needs 90,704 valid signatures that meet a required threshold from 50 counties across the state to qualify.

The proposal is principally aimed at building upon the state’s existing medical cannabis program, which was created under an earlier voter-approved measure. It would achieve that by making it so healthcare professionals could issue recommendations to patients for any condition they see fit and letting patients grow their own marijuana at home.

Nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants pharmacists and osteopathic doctors would be added to the list of professionals who could make those recommendations. Also, patients wouldn’t need to renew their medical marijuana cards until three years, versus one year under the current law.

Further, the measure includes a trigger provision that would end cannabis prohibition altogether in Arkansas if the federal government enacts legalization.

The initiative would also permit dispensaries to start selling pre-rolled joints.

“We’re extremely proud and excited that we were able to turn in today well over the number of signatures that we needed,” Melissa Fults, spokesperson for the campaign who also worked on the initial medical marijuana legalization initiative, told Marijuana Moment on Friday.

She added that the campaign will continue to collect signatures over the next month to ensure success in their qualification. The state permits an extra 30 days after the turn-in deadline in the event that activists collected at least 75 percent of required signatures in an initial batch.

“Our canvassers found voters eager to place an amendment on the ballot that will eliminate barriers to access and make it less expensive to acquire and keep a medical marijuana card,” Bill Paschall, APA campaign committee member, said in a statement, 5 News Online reported.

“As we move into the fall, we look forward to educating Arkansans all across the state about this amendment and the medicinal benefits of marijuana,” he said.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The state’s medical marijuana has proved popular since its implementation in 2019, with officials announcing in May that at least 102,000 residents have registered for patient cards, exceeding expectations.

Meanwhile, last August a law took effect in the state clarifying that medical marijuana patients can obtain concealed carry licenses for firearms.

Arkansas voters defeated a ballot initiative to more broadly legalize marijuana for adults in 2022.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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