Marijuana Proposals Explained to AR Voters

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act made it on the November ballot Thursday. 

But with the clock ticking, two other measures remain in limbo ahead of Friday's deadline.
 
Supporters of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment were canvassing the streets to collect last-minute signatures.
 
David Couch, a Little Rock attorney who's pushing the proposal, said his 200 canvassers have collected around 80,000 valid signatures from registered voters.
 
They only need 5,000 more to get on the ballot, and Couch is certain they'll make it. 
 
"It's just the right thing to do. Period," he said. 
 
Couch has made a living helping Arkansans as a lawyer. His latest case is legalizing medical marijuana in the Natural State. 
 
"They shouldn't have to break the law to take care of somebody," he said. 
 
However, not everyone agrees with him. 
 
"I don't think even for health issues, I still don't think it's a better way," said Tameka Lamb, a staunch opponent of marijuana. "Although it's a natural substance, because it does things that are unnatural to the body and to the mind, I don't think that it's a good idea to legalize it. Period."
 
"I don't see a big problem in the use and I don't see a problem just banning it all together because whichever one goes through, I'll be fine with it," said Jonah Rudkin, another Arkansas voter who claims to have many friends who smoke marijuana recreationally. 
 
"I'm on board with that [medical marijuana]," said Rhonda Avery, a fairly new supporter of medical marijuana. "I would agree if it's only for doctors' uses in treatment for patients."
 
Couch said Avery is part of the 84 percent of Arkansans who support medical marijuana, but less than half polled support at-home growing.
 
"My challenge during the election is not going to be getting people out to vote," Couch said. "It's going to be differentiating between mine and Arkansans for Compassionate Care."
 
Couch's Medical Marijuana Amendment would allow doctors to recommend marijuana for 15 qualifying conditions. Arkansans for Compassionate Care's Medical Cannabis Act would allow 56. 
 
Couch hopes to establish 40 for-profit dispensaries and eight grow centers that are regulated by a marijuana commission appointed by the governor and the legislature. Arkansans for Compassionate Care hope to open a minimum of 39 nonprofit dispensaries and grow centers that would be regulated by the Arkansas Department of Health.
 
 
The biggest distinction between the two is Couch's proposal prohibits at-home growing and Arkansans for Compassionate Care's proposal permits it. 
 
"You don't make your own OxyContin, you don't make your own penicillin," Couch said. "You buy it at your pharmacy. It's the same thing with respect to medical marijuana."
 
Couch claims his opponents are calling his proposal a monopoly.
 
However, he said his proposal prohibits an individual or organization to own more than one dispensary or grow center. That means 48 different individuals or organizations can have access under his plan.
 
"Arkansans for Compassionate Care doesn't have restrictions," Couch said. "One individual or organization could own all 39 of their dispensaries and grow centers. I could vote for their plan and have a monopoly. They think that they can just throw mud on this one."
 
 
 
Couch said one of the medical marijuana proposals must pass to better life for many in Arkansas. He just hopes it's his. 
 
"This is just too important of an issue to gamble so we're going to put ours on the ballot and we'll win," he said. 
 
Before an issue goes on the ballot, the secretary of state must certify all of the signatures. 
 
A proposal about recreational marijuana could also go before voters in November. The Arkansas Cannabis Amendment would fully legalize growing, distributing and possessing marijuana for all adults. 
 
Anyone interested in hearing more from Arkansans for Compassionate Care can watch this KARK 4 News story

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