Arkansans for Compassionate Care, a medical marijuana advocacy group, initially submitted 65,413 signatures in support of a medical marijuana legalization measure in early July. 28,918 of those signatures were found to be invalid by the secretary of state’s office, and the organization was given time to collect additional signatures.
On Monday, the group submitted over 74,000 signatures in addition to the 36,495 signatures that were initially approved by the secretary of state’s office. The group only needs 62,507 total signatures to have the legalization measure put to a vote of the people in November. This means that they only need approximately one-quarter of the newly submitted signatures to be deemed valid.
According to Melissa Fults, treasurer of ACC, the group was not prepared to ensure signers were registered voters before asking them if they’d be interested in signing the petition. After the learning curve of having signatures turned down the first time around, Fults is confident that they will exceed the number of signatures they need in order to get the measure onto the November ballot.
Now that the signatures have been submitted, the Arkansas secretary of state’s office has 10 days to determine whether the group submitted enough valid signatures.
Should the group have gathered enough signatures, the measure will appear on the general election ballot and registered voters will have the opportunity to legalize the use and possession of marijuana for medical use. Under the proposed measure, marijuana dispensaries would be established in the state, where they would operate on a not-for-profit basis. Doctors would be able to recommend the use of medical marijuana to patients with qualifying conditions; the list of qualifying conditions will be determined after the passage of the measure. Additionally, patients would be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana if they do not live within 5 miles of a collective.
Recent polls conducted throughout the United States show that the majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for medical use. However, Arkansas is a state with deep Republican roots, so the fate of the measure, should it make it onto the ballot, is still uncertain.