ArkNORML News- February 2014
The Arkansas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Contact: ARNORML.org, 501-568-1598, firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Meeting: Thursday, February 20, 6:30 pm
Little Rock Main Library, 100 S. Rock, First Floor Westside meeting room.
A. NORML Does Hemp campaign
B. Cannabis Common Sense Tour- Sat. March 29, Vino’s or Location TBA
C. Demonstration for 4-20 ideas
D. “Convicted Felons Can Vote!” campaign
E. Medical Marijuana initiative, by ARCompassion.com
F. Election of Officers for 2014
Due to the full agenda above the meeting will start promptly at 6:30 pm.
Illinois becomes 20th Medical MJ Stateby Glen Schwarz
Illinois has become the 20th state in the Union to provide a medical marijuana program for its citizens. The ‘Land of Lincoln’ state accomplished this feat through the legislature, with the Governor signing the program into law in August. The law will take effect on January 1 of 2014.
When a majority of states have enacted medical MJ programs, the Marijuana Policy Project, (MPP) promises to sue the Federal Government to revoke the policy that dogmatically states, “Marijuana has no medical uses.” MPP has provided major funding for many of the state initiatives that set up medical programs. The Illinois program will cover 25 conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDs, Crohn’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and several spinal cord conditions.
Portland, Maine and 2in Michigan
Three cities also voted in the November off-year election to legalize marijuana in their municipalities. These local initiatives do not replace state law and usually have little effect on the law-enforcement or prosecution. However their passage portends an open floodgate of states that will try for outright legalization in the 2016 election.
What happened to 2014, you may ask? The large voter turnout for presidential elections makes the percentage of voters necessary to place initiatives on the ballot larger during Governor’s year elections. For example, the number of voter signatures needed in Arkansas went from 64,000 last year to 72,000 for the 2014 initiative. With MPP considering at least 5 states to run legalization campaigns, the Presidential election year is considered a more efficient use of their money.
Arkansas Plunges Ahead
The Attorney General of Arkansas has been inundated with marijuana reform initiatives this year. At least 5 reform bills have been submitted to Dustin McDaniel for approval for circulation as initiated acts. Some of these have been rejected, re-written and resubmitted several times. To date, only two of these have been approved by the AG to start collecting signatures.
The first approved was an edited version of last year’s medical marijuana act, which was defeated at the polls by about 2% of the vote. Local attorney David Couch, who was involved in the petition drive last year, edited the act to exclude ‘the grow your own’ option for patients. Although his edit was first to be approved, repeated calls of inquiry to Mr. Couch for information or petition forms have not been returned.
The second act approved by the AG is the Compassionate Care Act that was voted on in the 2012 election. “It is the same act, with some typos and grammatical errors removed,” said Gary Fults of the reform group. The Fults were numbers 2 and 3 in the organization that brought the act to the ballot, but now they have moved up to lead the fight for a vote on medical MJ in 2014.
“Many people think that we ought to go for full legalization,” said Gary. “But that would be a waste of time and effort in Arkansas. We were close on medical last year, but there is no way that Arkansas will vote to legalize for their first reform.”
The group ran a booth at the State Fair in October where they collected over 5,000 signatures. The 2012 act was defeated largely because of large votes against it in the rural counties. The act actually passed in 13 urban counties. “I think if we do more education and advertising in the rural counties, we will pass the act in 2014,” said Gary,“But first we have to make the ballot.”
Contact this group at ARCompassion.com.