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AR Legal Pot Initiative Already Has 10,000 Signatures, NC Cherokees Become First in State to Approve MedMJ, More... (8/9/21)

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Medical and recreational marijuana initiative campaigns are getting underway, Puerto Rico's governor signs into law employment protections for medical marijuana patients, and more.

Nebraskans would like to be able to go to medical marijuana dispensaries like people in most other states. (Sondra Yruel/DPA)
Marijuana Policy

Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Initiative Campaign Already Has 10,000 Signatures. The group behind a marijuana legalization initiative campaign, Arkansas True Grass, says it has already gathered some 10,000 raw signatures as it pushes to get the measure on the November 2022. The initiative takes the form of a constitutional amendment that would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for people 21 and over. People could purchase up to four ounces of smokable or vaporized marijuana per day, and there would be no limits on the number of dispensaries. Because the initiative is a constitutional amendment, it has higher signature gathering requirements than statutory initiatives, and organizers must come up with 89,151 valid voter signatures by July 8, 2022.

Medical Marijuana

Nebraska Advocates Planning Multiple Medical Marijuana Initiatives. Medical marijuana advocates organized as Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana are planning several medical marijuana initiatives aimed at the 2020 ballot in a bid to avoid the fate of their 2020 initiative, which was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court because it encompassed more than one subject. The group has already drafted a constitutional amendment that says simply: "Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes." State Sen. Anna Wishart (D), a member of the group, said the group is considering two more initiatives that would "work in unison" to get medical marijuana legalized. One would require legislators to pass bills protecting physicians who recommend medical marijuana and their patients from criminal liability. The other would require lawmakers to pass bills protecting private companies that produce and supply medical marijuana. Once the proposed initiatives are okayed for signature gathering, activists would need 122,274 valid voter signatures for the constitutional amendment and 85,592 for the statutory initiatives. There is no deadline specified, but signatures have to be handed in at least four months before election day to qualify for the ballot that year.

North Carolina Cherokees Become First in State to Approve Medical Marijuana. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who maintain a sovereign nation in western North Carolina known as the Qualla Boundary, have approved the cultivation, distribution, and use of medical marijuana on their reservation lands, becoming the first entity in the state to do so. It is not clear when the tribal medical marijuana program will actually get going, but the tribe envisions a Cannabis Control Board to handle licensing and the issuance of medical marijuana cards. People would be limited to buying one ounce per day, with no more than six ounces in one month.

Puerto Rico Governor Signs into Law Bill Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients from Employment Discrimination. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has signed into law a bill that protects medical marijuana patients from discrimination in the workplace. The bill amends the territory's existing medical marijuana law to make registered patients members of a protected class under its employment protection laws. Under the expanded law, employers may not discriminate against authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions. There are exceptions, such as when "the use of medical cannabis represents a real threat of harm or danger to others or property" or when "the use of medical cannabis interferes with the employee’s performance and functions."

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