Two more marijuana measures that proponents hoped would be on the November ballot have gone down in defeat. In Arkansas, an initiative that sought to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes fell short of qualified signatures despite a last ditch effort by local activists. Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, Florida, a federal judge threw an initiative making marijuana possession enforcement the lowest law enforcement priority off the ballot despite its having been certified by local election officials.
In the Razorback State, the Arkansas Alliance for Medical Marijuana (http://www.ardpark.org) fell some 12,000 signatures short, garnering only 52,364 valid signatures when it needed 64,456 to qualify, according to state election officials.
Early on, the Arkansans had benefited from funding and staff bestowed upon them by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), but MPP pulled up stakes earlier this summer in order to focus resources on other efforts. But the Arkansas Alliance, led by Denele Campbell, attempted to gather the needed signatures on their own.
Despite the failure to make the ballot this year, Campbell told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette she was encouraged by her group's "overall progress" this year. "We've made huge gains in building our base statewide," Campbell said in a statement. "Clearly we are on the right track. When fear and rhetoric are set aside, our work boils down to a simple question: Do we in Arkansas want to arrest our sick and dying neighbors?"
In Tallahassee, a municipal initiative that would have made minor pot crimes the city's lowest law enforcement priority had been approved for the ballot by local election officials, but was thrown out by a federal judge.
According to NORML News of the Week, the unnamed federal judge threw out the initiative because it "seeks to establish a different priority or strategy with respect to a particular controlled substance" than that of the state legislature, which "has clearly set forth a comprehensive and uniform law enforcement and drug control program for the state."
The judge also held that the initiative process may not be used to enact a municipal ordinance, and that it would be "unlawful" for a city ordinance to "restrict the authority" of city police officers.
But despite the federal judge's ruling in Florida, several cities, including Seattle have successful passed and implemented such ordinances without clashing with state law. Other cities, such as Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Madison, Wisconsin, have passed local ordinances decriminalizing marijuana possession without conflicting with state law.