Competing Medical Marijuana Proposals in Arkansas Could Split Votes

Two plans to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas could appear on November ballots, causing some advocates to fear the competition would split votes, leading to the failure of both initiatives, according to an Associated Press report.

The measure proposed by Arkansans for Compassionate Care has already garnered more than 70,000 valid signatures, surpassing the 67,887 required to get the proposal on the ballot.

Another proposal headed by Little Rock lawyer David Couch seeks to add a constitutional amendment that legalizes medical cannabis. An amendment proposal requires 84,859 valid signatures; Couch says his proposal has more than 40,000 so far. The deadline to submit petitions is July 8.

“It will be enough to split the vote and both will fail,” Melissa Fults, campaign director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care said.

A third proposal, by Summit resident Mary Berry, would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Broader legalization efforts were defeated by Arkansas voters in 2012 thanks in part to a campaign by prohibitionist group The Family Council. Another group, The Coalition for Safer Arkansas, has also formed to block cannabis reform efforts in the state.

Couch believes conservative groups are less likely to campaign against proposals that are strictly for medicinal purposes.

“I think that if the debate is about whether or not someone is sick and dying or has some sort of illness that marijuana can actually help with that and the doctor prescribes it, nobody has a problem with it,” he said in the report.

The marijuana initiatives are three of just six proposals vying for consideration by voters in November.

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