Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment Faces Legal Hurdles

Arkansas Medical Cannabis

The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment of 2024, a ballot initiative that aims to expand access for medical marijuana patients and pave the way for recreational legalization, has been rejected by the state’s attorney general due to insufficient and ambiguous language.

Attorney General Finds Faults with the Proposal

On Monday, Attorney General Tim Griffin ® determined that the ballot title for the amendment was not clear and concise, as required by the state law. He also pointed out several formatting errors and inconsistencies in the proposed constitutional amendment.

Griffin said that the proposal did not specify how it would affect the existing state laws and rules regarding medical marijuana, such as the Medical Marijuana Commission, the Department of Health, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. He also said that the proposal did not explain how it would interact with the federal law, which still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse.

Griffin also raised concerns about a section of the proposal that would limit the state’s ability to regulate marijuana business advertising, saying that it was unclear what set of rules were being referenced.

Arkansas Medical Cannabis

The attorney general’s opinion is not binding, but it means that the backers of the amendment will have to revise and resubmit their proposal before they can start collecting signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

Backers of the Amendment Plan to Make Revisions

The amendment is sponsored by Arkansans for Patient Access, a ballot question committee that represents the interests of the medical marijuana industry and patients. The committee said that it plans to make the necessary changes and resubmit the proposal as soon as possible.

The amendment seeks to make several changes to Amendment 98, which was approved by the voters in 2016 and legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas. The proposed changes include:

  • Allowing patients and designated caregivers over age 21 to grow up to seven mature plants and seven younger marijuana plants at home.
  • Expanding who can certify patients for medical marijuana cards from only doctors to include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.
  • Permitting providers to qualify patients based on any medical need rather than the state’s current 18 qualifying conditions.
  • Allowing health care providers to conduct patient assessments via telemedicine.
  • Expanding access to out-of-state residents by recognizing patient cards from other states or allowing nonresidents to obtain Arkansas patient cards.
  • Abolishing application fees for patients seeking registry ID cards.
  • Increasing the expiration date for new patient cards from one year to three years.

The amendment also contains a provision that would trigger the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults if the federal government removes marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances or if marijuana possession is no longer a federal crime.

Supporters Say the Amendment Would Benefit Patients and the State

The supporters of the amendment argue that it would benefit the patients who rely on medical marijuana for their health and well-being, as well as the state’s economy and tax revenue.

They say that allowing home cultivation would reduce the cost and increase the availability of medical marijuana for patients, especially those who live in rural areas or have limited mobility. They also say that expanding the list of qualifying conditions and providers would make it easier for patients to access medical marijuana without facing stigma or discrimination.

They also claim that legalizing recreational marijuana would create new jobs and businesses, generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and reduce the burden on the criminal justice system. They point to the example of other states that have legalized marijuana, such as Colorado and California, which have seen positive impacts on their economies and public health.

Opponents Say the Amendment Would Harm Public Health and Safety

The opponents of the amendment, however, say that it would harm the public health and safety of Arkansas, as well as violate the federal law and the state’s constitution.

They say that allowing home cultivation would increase the risk of diversion, theft, and abuse of marijuana, as well as expose children and pets to accidental ingestion or exposure. They also say that expanding the list of qualifying conditions and providers would open the door for fraud and abuse, and undermine the legitimacy of the medical marijuana program.

They also argue that legalizing recreational marijuana would increase the use and abuse of the drug, especially among youth and vulnerable populations, and lead to negative consequences such as impaired driving, mental health problems, addiction, and crime. They cite the example of other states that have legalized marijuana, such as Oregon and Washington, which have seen increased rates of marijuana-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.

They also contend that the amendment would violate the federal law, which still prohibits marijuana, and the state’s constitution, which requires that ballot initiatives be consistent with the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States.

The Fate of the Amendment Remains Uncertain

The fate of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Amendment of 2024 remains uncertain, as the backers of the proposal will have to overcome the legal hurdles and gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. They will also have to face the opposition from the state officials, law enforcement, and anti-marijuana groups, who will likely campaign against the amendment.

The amendment will also have to compete with the attention and resources of other ballot initiatives that may be on the 2024 ballot, such as the Arkansas Voter Protection and Expansion Amendment, which would expand voting rights and access in the state, and the Arkansas Term Limits Amendment, which would impose stricter term limits on state legislators.

The amendment will also have to win the support of the majority of the voters, who may have different opinions and preferences on the issue of marijuana legalization. According to a recent poll by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, 54% of Arkansans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while 41% oppose it and 5% are undecided.

The amendment will also have to contend with the uncertainty of the federal policy on marijuana, which may change depending on the outcome of the 2024 presidential and congressional elections, as well as the actions of the executive and judicial branches.

By Ethan Mitchell

Ethan Mitchell is the visionary founder of CBD Strains Only, a leading online platform dedicated to providing premium CBD products and information. With a passion for holistic wellness and a deep understanding of the benefits of CBD, Ethan's mission is to empower individuals to enhance their well-being through high-quality CBD strains.

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