Newsbrief: Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Initiative -- Again 11/21/03

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For the second time in two months, Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe has rejected the ballot title and name of a proposed initiative that would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state. He rejected an earlier draft last month.

But it could be that Beebe simply doesn't want to see such an initiative come before the voters. His reason for rejecting the initiative this time was that it was ambiguous, he wrote. He cited a section of the initiative that says it "shall not permit the medical use of marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another person, such as driving or operating heavy equipment while under the influence of marijuana."

While the language appears straightforward -- this initiative would not protect marijuana-impaired driving -- Beebe pronounced himself baffled. "The scope and effect of this provision are unclear, in my view," he wrote. He also wrote that he was not sure how to interpret the phrase "shall not permit."

The initiative, drafted by the Alliance for the Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas, would allow doctors to advise patients they could be candidates for marijuana use and would allow those patients to possess up to six plants or ounce of marijuana. The Alliance hopes to get the initiative on the ballot for the November 2004 elections, but each delay makes that process more difficult.

Looks like it's back to the drawing board for the Arkansas medical marijuana initiative -- or maybe to the courthouse, if state elected officials continue to play semantic games.

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