Arkansas Medical Marijuana Petition Filed

August 25, 2004

Rob Moritz, Fort Smith Times Record

LITTLE ROCK — Supporters of a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use delivered 30,000 new signatures Wednesday and resubmitted more than 17,000 after having them notarized in an effort to get the measure on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Wednesday was the deadline to submit the additional signatures.

“Our canvassers worked very hard in an extremely difficult situation, with limited funds and a short period of time to gather these signatures,” said Denele Campbell, executive director of the Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

The secretary of state’s office has until Sept. 12 to count and certify the signatures, said spokeswoman Kathleen McQueen. However, she said she expects workers to complete the job sometime next week.

Last month, supporters brought in about 66,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The secretary of state’s office said just 29,947 of the nearly 49,000 signatures counted were certified. Just more than 17,000 were discarded because they had not been notarized.

Between the new signatures and the notarized ones, Phyliss Thompson of Little Rock, owner of the company that collected the signatures, said she is confident the measure will be approved for the ballot.

“This should bring us over,” she said.

In July, about 60 percent of the signatures were approved. Thompson said she expects the validation rate to be much higher this time.

Under the proposed initiated act, a doctor would have to sign off on the drug’s use. Eligible patients would be those with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or another chronic or debilitating disease that causes severe pain.

Supporters have said the proposal would not open the door for legalization of marijuana in the state, as some critics have alleged.

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.

Individual patients 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 one marijuana provider, and the provider could have only one patient at a time.

The Families First Foundation and the American Family Association Arkansas announced a grassroots effort to oppose the proposal if it makes it on the Nov. 2 ballot.

A proposed constitutional act that would define marriage as between a man and a woman has already been certified for the ballot by the secretary of state’s office.



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