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Close marijuana vote a surprise, foe says

Posted: November 7, 2012 at 7:02 a.m.
Updated: November 7, 2012 at 7:51 a.m.

— The president of the group that rallied to oppose an act that would have allowed the sale and use of medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions said Wednesday that he was surprised by the closeness of the race.

Proponents, meanwhile, said they are already turning their attention toward new efforts for legalizing medical use of the drug.

The state voted down the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, with 51 percent opposing and 49 percent supporting, in a race that wasn't called until early Wednesday morning.

Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, said he expected a race closer to 54-46. He said the tight race will result in even more opposition should the issue be addressed in the state Legislature or through another ballot measure in two years.

He said a number of medical and law enforcement groups that came out against the act didn't expect it would make the ballot, so they had minimal time to plan an opposition campaign.

"I think they'll be much more aware next time," Cox said.

Melissa Fults, treasurer for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said her group will first pursue the issue through the state Legislature. If that fails, she said, it will again go through a petition campaign to get it on the ballot in two years.

"Needless to say, we're disappointed," Fults said by phone Wednesday morning. "But we were so close. We did more than anybody ever believed we'd do. And we'll start right back."

Fults said she believes the closeness of the race could spur legislators to take up the issue even though previous attempts haven't worked. Cox said he doubts the General Assembly would consider a law legalizing medical marijuana.

If it comes to another petition drive, the language in the act will likely change, Fults said. In particular, change is likely to the portion of the act that called for patients living more than 5 miles from a marijuana dispensary to grow their own small plot of plants.

Fults said the changes will need to be discussed in detail within the organization and with its attorney, adding there may still be some personal grow allowance.

"We'll make some language changes," she said. "There were some things that scared people. The 5-mile rule we'll have to deal with. That probably was the only thing that hurt us."

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I just wonder if Arkansas voters would vote to have the freedom to use marijuana as a recreational drug. Colorado and Washington both think it is ok. Just wait till the politicians see how much tax money those states raise. you will see people can their minds and vote to allow people to use this drug.
There is much more fear about marijuana than fact.
1st it is not a gateway drug that is Cigarettes and alcohol. which are both legal to use by adults.
2nd it has been studied and found to be not addictive.
3rd Is America really free when we throw people in prison for using a plant for there own personal use.
4th I will bet the Cartels are moving out of Colorado and Washington to come to Arkansas so they can get a better price and not be taxed for selling the drug. That alone is a good reason to legalize it so we can take the criminal element out of it., That was one of the main reasons for legalizing Booze to TAX it and shut the criminals out of the profits.
The old fear tactics won't work for ever.
I wonder how many people in the dry counties that went wet voted against medical marijuana. I'm sure there were plenty.
Time to change the mind set that has kept Arkansas looking like a bunch of stupid hicks.

Posted by: troutjig

November 8, 2012 at 9:20 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

RE "a number of medical and law enforcement groups that came out against the act didn't expect it would make the ballot, so they had minimal time to plan an opposition campaign."
If they were telling the truth, how much time did they need? It's when you invent the underlying message and content of your campaign that you need extra time to plan it.

Posted by: AlphaCat

November 8, 2012 at 10:59 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

"If it comes to another petition drive, the language in the act will likely change, Fults said. In particular, change is likely to the portion of the act that called for patients living more than 5 miles from a marijuana dispensary to grow their own small plot of plants."

I'm worried about this provision being taken out of future attempts. I saw this as a "check-and-balance" provision to insure that the prices for patients are reasonable and accessible with no company being able to monopolize an area.

In addition it prevented the law from being implemented in letter and not spirit. In-other-words something like one dispensary for the entire state located somewhere on I-55 in an abandoned rest stop.

"But look, you found the *dispensary* didn't you?"

"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was... in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

Posted by: Nilatir

November 8, 2012 at 11:49 a.m. ( | suggest removal )