AG certifies one medical marijuana proposal, rejects another


LITTLE ROCK — The state attorney general on Tuesday certified a proposed initiated act that would legalize marijuana for medical use in Arkansas and rejected a second proposal.

The group Arkansans for Responsible Medicine now has until July 7, 2014, to collect 62,507 signatures of registered Arkansas voters in order to qualify its proposed initiative for the November 2014 ballot.

Under the proposal, a patient with a doctor’s certification that he or she suffers from a malady included on a list of conditions that might be helped by marijuana could purchase the drug from dispensaries. The proposal prohibits people from growing their own marijuana and requires it to be purchased from from dispensaries.

The sale of marijuana would be subject to all state and local taxes and all of the taxes collected would be distributed equally among the Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank, a newly created Arkansas Historic Preservation Fund, the Public Health Fund and the Behavioral Health Services Account Fund.

David Couch, spokesman for Arkansans for Responsible Medicine, said the collection of signatures should begin later this month and that an out-of-state company specializing in signature gathering will probably be hired.

“I’m very happy,” Couch said Tuesday.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cited a number of ambiguities in rejecting a proposed initiated act by Arkansans for Compassionate Care. It was the fourth time since November that the group has had its proposal rejected.

The group was successful in 2012 of getting its proposal on the ballot but it was rejected by voters.

The proposed initiated act would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the state with the locations determined by the state Department of Health. The marijuana would only be available to people with prescriptions for certain health conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, Hepatitis C and those who are terminally ill.

Under the proposal, limited cultivation of marijuana would be granted to qualifying patients and designated caregivers if they lack access to reasonable transportation to a nonprofit dispensary and obtain a hardship cultivation certificate from the Department of Health.

Tax revenue generated by the sale of marijuana would go to the Department of Health to administer the Medical Marijuana Program, as well as to the Newborn Umbilical Cord Initiative Fund and to drug education programs administered through the state Department of Human Services.

Melissa Fults, campaign director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said the group would rewrite it’s proposal submit it to the attorney general’s office.

“Oh yes, we will submit it again,” she said.