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In many states, the beginning of July marks not only a seminal summer celebration but also the cutoff date for signature collection on ballot initiatives. Unfortunately for activists in Arkansas, this year that means accepting a minor loss: they didn’t collect quite enough signatures to make it on the ballot.
The medical cannabis program would have been established and run by the state Department of Health. It would not have allowed for general home cultivation, except in cases of financial hardship and even created a basic framework for nonprofit dispensaries.
According to Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group backing the 2014 Arkansas medical cannabis ballot initiative along with Americans for Safe Access, they fell short of collecting the 62,507 signatures that were needed to get on the ballot for 2014. Their official statement indicates that they reached about 80% of the signature goal, and they are already refocusing on a 2016 initiative.
Despite a loss on election day by a narrow margin in 2012 and the inability to get this year’s ballot initiative on the ballot, Arkansas cannabis activists are unflappable. Polling earlier this year showed lagging support, but there’s plenty of time to rally the troops and adjust strategy before the 2016 signature collection begins. Most remain optimistic that the 2016 initiative will make it on the ballot and many are hopeful it will pass. If it does, it will make Arkansas the first state in the South to pass a medical cannabis law.
You can follow Arkansans for Compassionate Care on Facebook here. They’re already working to get organized for their next shot at reforming their state’s laws!
Photo Credit: Joseph Hutchins Colton under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons