LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas voters will not be deciding any issues related to marijuana use this election year.
Two measures, one for medical marijuana and the other for recreational use, have both failed to gather enough signatures to make it onto the November ballot.
However, two other proposals on other issues are awaiting approval after turning in signatures on their petitions. Those measures include one for raising the minimum wage and another for statewide alcohol sales.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care released the following statement explaining further about the failure of its medical marijuana initiative:
Arkansans for Compassionate Care will not submit the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act to the the Secretary of State today. Volunteers from across the state worked diligently the last few months, collecting nearly 80% of the required signatures, but unfortunately time constraints prevented them from reaching the ballot. Plans to resubmit for 2016 are already in motion.
"Our volunteers have done an amazing job, but we just didn't have enough time or funding—and we faced some unique challenges—starting with crafting a stronger initiative that protects patients and the State better," said Melissa Fults, Campaign Director for the AMCA. "The approval process took time, but it was worth it."
Many of ACC's volunteers are patients themselves. During the campaign, several were hospitalized or had surgery, but they still kept coming to meetings and collecting signatures. One volunteer who spent five days in the hospital began canvassing the day after she was released. Another canvassed with his foot propped on a chair after surgery.
ACC did accomplish a lot, despite not making it onto the ballot. Volunteers registered new voters and educated Arkansans across the state, giving them access to medical cannabis research.
"The tide is turning," Fults said. "The hardest thing I had to do was to call some of the parents of children with seizure disorders and some of our cancer patients and tell them that cannabis just would not be an option for them in 2014. Many won't have any choice but to leave the state in order to save their own or a loved one’s life."
DON'T BACK DOWN: THE RALLY FOR 2016
Plans to start back are in progress now with hopes to start collecting signatures for 2016 by early September.
"We hope to be more accessible this time around," said Fults. "If you want to help or sign, please visit our web site and find out how to participate."
"So many Arkansans could benefit greatly from a legal medical cannabis program. Some lives could even be saved. We can’t stop until they are allowed that option. If it was easy, it would have been done in the 90s, but the process for citizens directly changing outdated laws is extremely hard. It either costs a lot of money to pay professionals or it costs a huge amount of volunteers their time, energy, and resources. Our volunteers think it is worth that time, and we plan on looking to even more Arkansas citizens to get involved in both canvassing and funding. We want to change Arkansas with Arkansans."
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