It’s only a matter of time before whole-plant medical cannabis becomes legal in the South. The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office has validated 77,516 signatures for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act of 2016 (AMCA). The initiative will be put before registered voters on Nov. 8, 2016. The initiative would legalize medical cannabis by a doctor’s recommendation for patients with 56 qualifying conditions, including Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s Disease, MS and fibromyalgia, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The initiative includes personal at-home cultivation of no more than five flowering and five non-flowering plants.
If passed, Arkansas would officially become one of the first southern states with such a program and will join 25 other states and Washington D.C. in allowing doctors to write recommendations for cannabis. There are similar measures in Florida and Missouri that are both polling favorably and are likely to pass.
Support Still Strong Among Likely Voters
The final results from the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll indicate strong support among Arkansas voters for medical marijuana. In the latest survey, conducted June 21, 2016 among 751 likely Arkansas voters, 58 percent of those polled supported medical marijuana sales through non-profit dispensaries.
“Going back to the 2012 election cycle when medical marijuana first popped up on the policy agenda in Arkansas, we have polled the issue a number of times. Polling this week reiterates that Arkansans appear ready for the medical use of marijuana to become public policy in Arkansas as the survey shows a comfortable lead (58% to 34%) for such a measure,” Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College who helped to create the poll, said.
Compassion is a Grassroots Bipartisan Issue
Volunteers with Arkansans for Compassionate Care collected signatures across the Natural State, despite the expected “reefer-madness” from groups such as the Arkansas Family Council. Jerry Cox, president of Family Council is currently fundraising $10,000 for a statewide anti-marijuana campaign.
“Certain groups of voters are especially supportive of the measure,” Barth says. “Democrats (74 percent support), African-Americans (73 percent support), Second Congressional District residents (65 percent support), and those aged 30 to 44 (73 percent) are all disproportionately supportive. Still, the concept leads among all groups of Arkansas voters with only one exception: the state’s Republican voters. Even with that group, the proposal is tied (45 percent support and 45 percent opposition).”
The same question was brought to voters in September of this year, it showed an even larger 84 percent of Arkansans agree that adults should be allowed to use physician-prescribed cannabis. The results from these surveys show an overwhelming population of Arkansans are in favor of medical cannabis. It’s time for natural medicine for the Natural State.
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