An Arkansas initiative to legalize medical marijuana appears likely to qualify for the November ballot after proponents handed in an additional 74,000 signatures last Monday. The group, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, needs 62,507 valid voter signatures to qualify and already has more than 36,000 qualified from an earlier signature hand-in.
Initiative proponents suffered an unusually high invalidation rate of more than 50% with their first hand-in, but the group's treasurer, Melissa Fults, told the Associated Press they had learned more about the process after handing in its first batch of signatures. For the second round of signature gathering, the group made sure volunteers and paid canvassers were carefully checking that signees were indeed registered to vote.
"I don't think there's much of a chance we won't" qualify for the ballot, Fults said.
The new batch of signatures must now be verified by the secretary of state's office. It had 10 days from last Monday to rule on whether the initiative qualifies.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act would allow patients suffering from specified diseases or medical conditions to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. It envisions a system of state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries, and would allow patients or their caregivers to grow their own only if they are not within five miles of a dispensary. In that case, patients could grow up to six flowering plants. Patients could possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana.