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Arkansans consider proposals to legalize medical marijuana - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arkansans consider proposals to legalize medical marijuana

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Texarkana, Arkansas -

Arkansas residents now have two medical marijuana law proposals to consider putting on the 2014 ballot.
    
The State Attorney General recently approved the wording of the two initiative.  
    
Signatures are now being gathered.
    
If it had passed last year, Arkansas would have been the first state in the south to legalize medical marijuana.

Now two proposals could be back before voters next year.

One proposal, sponsored by Arkansans for Responsible Medicine, will allow medical marijuana patients registered with the state to purchase cannabis from state-regulated dispensaries.

This proposal would not allow home cultivation.

The Arkansas Pharmacy Association believes if marijuana is ever legalized, it should be dispensed by pharmacists not unlicensed workers in marijuana dispensaries.    

"This time around so many people are beginning to understand that this truly is a medicine," said Melissa Fultz, Arkansas for Compassionate Care, Campaign Manager.

The second group, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, wants to allow patients to grow marijuana at home so long as they live more than five miles from the nearest dispensary.

Fultz says there would be safeguards in place.  

"Like before if you could grow it at home you never even got inspected, now that people have the hardship cultivation, they will be subject to having it inspected and searched," said Fultz.

Medicial marijuana can be smoked, taken orally, or even used as a topical ointment to treat a variety of medical conditions from glaucoma to cancer.

In 2012, Arkansas gave medical marijuana a thumbs down, but just barely.

The measure got 49 percent of the vote.

In Miller County, the measure was more soundly rejected by 57 percent of voters.

The Arkansas Sheriff's Association went on record against the issue.

Miller County Sheriff Ron Stovall says he remains concerned about the lack of regulations for medical marijuana.  

"I was opposed to this initiative when it was introduced the last time, and my posture has not changed, I'm still opposed to it. First and foremost it's against the federal statutes," said Stoically.

Executive Director of the Family Council Action Committee Jerry Cox is concerned that legalized medical marijuana would not serve a medical purpose, but instead corrupt future generations.

Cox says last year was a close call and if the measures get on the ballot for 2014, they'll be ready.

"We're not looking at what if it passes, right now we are looking at how do we get people informed enough that they will understand the full extent of what this means," said Cox. "I think once they do, they will vote it down."

The groups now have to get signatures of more than 62,000 registered Arkansas voters on each measure to get on the 2014 ballot.

There are currently 20 states including Washington D.C. that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

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