Arkansas Attorney General Rejects 2014 Medical Marijuana Proposal

LITTLE ROCK, AR — The Arkansas Attorney General has rejected the language of a proposed 2014 ballot initiative, The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, that would legalize the medical use of marijuana.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the wording Monday for “confusing and ambiguous points” contained within the language of the proposal.

In his decision, McDaniel’s says the proposed initiative isn’t clear enough about whether patients could grow their own marijuana at home:

Proposed section 20-65-103(a) would allow a qualifying patient to engage in the “medical use” of marijuana, subject to a possession limit. Proposed section 20-65-102(8) would define “medical use” to include the “manufacture” and “preparation” of marijuana. While one may not normally consider the growing of a plant to be its “manufacture,” it is difficult to see what other meaning the word may have in this context, particularly given that it must be presumed to mean something other than “preparation,” else that word would be surplusage. Your proposed ballot title implies that a qualifying patient’s only source of marijuana will be a nonprofit dispensary. I accordingly assume that you intend for at-home growing by patients to be disallowed, but the proposal’s language does not clearly achieve that result. The proposal’s position on this issue is undoubtedly a significant matter for a voter’s consideration. But without clarification, this significant point cannot be summarized for the voters in a ballot title.

McDaniel also says that there is contradictory language regarding non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.

Proposed section 20-65-103(d) provides that a nonprofit dispensary may transfer marijuana to another nonprofit dispensary. Proposed section 20-65-111(a) provides that a nonprofit dispensary may not transfer marijuana to anyone other than a qualifying patient, and proposed section 20-65-105(g) provides for revocation of the registry identification card of any cardholder (including a nonprofit dispensary agent, through whom a nonprofit dispensary presumably must act) who transfers marijuana to anyone other than a qualifying patient. The provisions directly contradict one another.

In a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Attorney David Couch of Arkansans for Responsible Medicine, McDaniel emphasizes that his office “does not concern itself with the merits, philosophy, or ideology of proposed measures,” simply the language of the bills to be placed before voters.

Couch says he will correct the issues and resubmit the proposal, which must be certified by McDaniel before signature gathering can begin in the hopes of placing the measure before voters in 2014.

A similar measure, Issue 5, was placed before voters in 2012, and was narrowly defeated at the polls.   But medical marijuana remains a hot topic in Arkansas: in the 2012 election, more Arkansas voters cast ballots for the medical marijuana measure than they did for President Barack Obama, with more than 500,000 voters in favor of the marijuana issue and about 390,000 votes cast for Obama.

Arkansas Attorney General Rejects 2014 Medical Marijuana Proposal was written by and appears in full on The Daily Chronic.

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