Not looking good for marijuana amendment

September 02, 2004

Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK - A proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use does not appear to have enough signatures to get on the Nov. 2 ballot, the general counsel for the secretary of state's office said Thursday. 'It's not looking very good,' said Tim Humphries, adding that about half of the signatures on petitions already counted could not be certified as those of registered voters.

'They still need another 23,000 to get on the ballot and there are just about 24,000 (signatures) left to count,' Humphries said. 'If that verification rate holds it will not get on the ballot. They would have to have a 90 percent verification rate for the rest.'

Humphries said he expects workers to complete the count sometime today.

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.

Denele Campbell, executive director for the Alliance for Drug Policy in Arkansas, could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Earlier this week, however, she said she was aware that the proposal might come up short in the number of proper signatures to be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

In July, supporters brought in about 66,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The secretary of state's office, however, said just 29,947 of the nearly 49,000 signatures counted were certified. Just over 17,000 were discarded because they had not been notarized.

Last week, supporters resubmitted the more than 17,000 after getting them notarized and submitted 30,000 new signatures.

To get a proposed initiated act on the ballot, 64,465 signatures of registered voters are needed.

A proposed constitutional amendment 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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