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Groups Competing For the Legalization Of Marijuana In Arkansas

Campaigners across Arkansas have been scouring the state trying to drum up signatures for two distinct medical marijuana ballot issues. If successful, voters may be making decisions in the ballot box on legalizing medical cannabis during a fall vote. Some will need to keep hustling to gather signatures to meet the July 8 deadline for submission of petitions.

The marijuana advocates are not only in trying to bring matters to a public vote. Other additions vying for spots in the ballot booth include those to legalize casinos in three countries, term limits on lawmakers and a push to put a cap on lawsuit damages. There are two issues aiming to legalize medical marijuana. There is currently a dearth of Southern states with legal medical marijuana. Louisiana is the exception, although it comes with a big asterisk in that the state may say that medical marijuana is legal, they have not legalized any growing of marijuana in the state, which pretty much makes the headline law a moot point currently.

You’d think that two groups collecting signatures would be beneficial, but some advocates are a little concerned that two competing proposals could be negative.

Arkansas for Compassionate Care campaign director Melissa Fults, who has been working to medical marijuana on the ballot, is concerned that it could split the vote and cause both to fall short. Fults’ group is trying to get a proposed initiated act on the ballot, which requires 67,887 signatures from registered voters. They have already exceeded that requirement, with more than 70,000 signatures.

David Couch, a lawyer from Little Rock, is championing the other proposal, for which he is seeking a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment. This requires 84,859 signatures from registered voters, for which his is only about halfway there. Couch isn’t worried about the differences between Fults’ proposal and his as far as dividing voters.

The last time medical marijuana made it to the ballot was in 2012, when voters narrowly rejected the idea. Advocates in the state were backstopped by serious support from national organizations at that time, which haven’t showed up with such force (at least not yet), so the outcome remains a bit of a coin toss at this moment.

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