Medical marijuana measure needs more signatures

July 27, 2004

Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK - A proposed ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for medical use has come up short in the number of signatures of registered voters needed to get it on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. The secretary of state's office said Tuesday that just 29,947 of the nearly 49,000 signatures counted were certified. To get a proposed initiated act on the general election ballot, 64,465 signatures of registered voters are needed.

Supporters of the measure now have 30 days - until Aug. 26 - to gather the additional signatures from registered voters in Arkansas to get the proposal on the ballot.

Denele Campbell, executive director of the Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said Tuesday that she wasn't surprised by the announcement and the alliance is already out collecting more signatures in an effort to get the measure on the ballot.

'We're not giving up,' she said, adding that a lack of funds will make it difficult to gather the necessary signatures in 30 days. She said the group has received about $10,000 in donations to help pay for the collection of signatures.

Supporters of the proposal turned in just over 66,000 signatures on July 2. About 18,000 of those, however, were automatically discarded because of a technicality.

Campbell said the 18,000 were discarded because they were notarized incorrectly. She said that issue is being addressed in hopes that those signatures can soon be counted.

Opponents of the proposal, including the Faith and Ethics Council, Arkansas Committee for Ethics, the Families First Foundation and the American Family Association of Arkansas have said it is the first step toward the full legalization of marijuana in the state. Those groups have said they will campaign against the proposal if it should make it on the ballot.

A proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriages in Arkansas was certified for the Nov. 2 ballot last week by the secretary of state's office.


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