ARKANSAS: Medical marijuana advocates Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) have joined forces to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA) is a comprehensive blueprint for establishing and regulating a medical marijuana program run by the Arkansas Department of Health.
Advocates are launching their fundraising campaign at 2pm this Saturday, November 9th with a Budweiser-sponsored, all-day concert at the Silverado Club, 1205 W. Hillsboro Street in El Dorado. Budweiser has underwritten the venue and a portion of the beer sales will go to ACC.
If passed, the AMCA would allow Arkansas patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for serious debilitating medical conditions. Patients would also have the option to purchase medical marijuana at well-regulated, not-for-profit dispensaries or cultivate it themselves under strict conditions. Last November, nearly 49 percent of Arkansas voters — over half a million — voted for a similar medical marijuana initiative. Since then, three additional states — Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire — have adopted medical marijuana laws, bringing the total to twenty, plus the District of Columbia.
Notably, Asa Hutchinson, formerly a U.S. Attorney, Member of Congress, and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced his plans earlier this year to run for Governor of Arkansas. Americans for Safe Access was formed in 2002 during Hutchinson’s time as DEA administrator and deliberately chose the acronym ASA to draw attention to Hutchinson’s aggressive attacks against medical marijuana at the time.
However, during a 2011 debate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville between Hutchinson and Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, Hutchinson stated that, “if there is a medical need and the doctors say you need a particular substance — whether it is Marinol or marijuana or whatever — if the doctor or medical community says that, then patients ought to be able to get that.”
“Americans for Safe Access welcomes the opportunity to work with Asa Hutchinson, if he’s elected governor, to implement what would be the first medical marijuana law in the South,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We’ve seen many people’s views on this issue evolve over the past decade, and we’re delighted that he’s part of the 80% of Americans who support a commonsense, compassionate approach to medical marijuana.”
The AMCA campaign started last month with 300 registered volunteers and has gathered a total of 4,000 signatures so far. Advocates must collect more than 62,000 signatures by the July 7, 2014 deadline in order to qualify for the ballot.