Supporters of Arkansas marijuana amendment gathering signatures

June 12, 2004

Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK - If amendment supporters have their way, Arkansas voters will get to decide whether marijuana should be allowed as a medical remedy. Supporters of a proposed initiated act that would legalize marijuana use for medical purposes are optimistic they will get the necessary signatures by the July 2 deadline, but they are trying to avoid being overly confident.

'I feel comfortable,' said Denele Campbell, executive director of the Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

Campbell noted that in both 2000 and 2002, the alliance had a similar proposal but wasn't able to get the signatures by the deadline.

Petitions for initiated acts need 64,465 signatures of registered voters.

Campbell said getting the signatures has been easier than getting the measure's ballot name and title approved by the attorney general. Citing a 2001 poll, she said Arkansans overwhelmingly support the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

A 2001 poll conducted by the University of Arkansas showed 63 percent of those who responded said they favored the proposal; 32 percent said they opposed it.

Under the proposed initiated act, the state Health Department would issue an identification card to patients who would be allowed to possess and use marijuana without being arrested or prosecuted for it.

To qualify, a patient would have to have a doctor agree that they have a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or another chronic or debilitating disease that causes severe pain.

The patient or their 'marijuana provider' would be allowed to possess, grow and transport marijuana legally, but not more than six plants, or one ounce of usable marijuana per person.

A patient would be allowed to have only one marijuana provider, and the provider could have only one patient at a time.

The Health Department's list of people with identification cards would be confidential and exempt from the state Freedom of Information Act.

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