Arkansas will have a chance to become America’s first truly Southern state with medical cannabis come this election.
The Arkansas secretary of state’s office announced today that 77,516 of the Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) initiative’s signatures collected qualified as valid signatures. Thus, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA), which legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries and allows for home growing, will appear on Arkansas’ ballot come November.
The AMCA would make medical marijuana available to those with chronic and severe illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Chron’s disease, lupus, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. While the bill’s restrictive nature wouldn’t create a full-fledged medical marijuana industry, the AMCA would provide safe access to Arkansas’ patients with the most dire need for medicine.
A competing, more prohibitive measure (the AMMA) that does not allow home growing is expected to submit its signatures for state approval any day. Should that bill also make the ballot, state supporters are concerned the two competing measures will cause both to ultimately fail.
The AMCA constituency has asked the AMMA to drop its proposal so one bill could pass. Sadly, the AMMA appears intent on submitting its signatures and making the ballot–which will spell doom for Arkansas’ patients in need of safe access.
Still, should Arkansas’ voters approve the measure, Arkansas would become America’s 26th or 27th medical marijuana state, depending on your definition of Louisiana’s unrecognized medical marijuana program. However, that number could easily jump to 28 or 29 this fall as Florida and Missouri also have similar medical marijuana measures that voters will decide the fate of this fall.
All different types of people consume cannabis, and that means all walks of life also grow it. Often, when people work in creative fields, there’s a likely connection between career and cannabis.
Sadly for amateur botanists Tori Shaw and Tyler Smoyer, that collision came to head in Kentucky, a state with some of the strictest laws against growing cannabis.
The couple was busted via the state’s “Text-a-Tip” program when someone notified police of suspicious behavior. Cops visited the couple’s home for a brief conversation then promptly returned with a warrant to search the property. The warrant turned up a whopping seven marijuana plants along with six guns and a tactical vest.
While it’s never a good idea to combine cannabis with firearms, this honest-working couple wasn’t exactly a branch of ISIS. Nonetheless, they’ve been charged with a felony for growing more than five plants of cannabis and multiple misdemeanors for having the weaponry.
Each individual has a clean record but can still face up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. But both individuals lives are already altered: Tori Shaw, a notable local news personality on WPST TV, lost her job and both must now deal with the legal and fiscal aftermath that comes with such a case.
As expected with this type of case, the local community is not happy about the charges facing these two non-violent, law-abiding members of society. Their complaint stems from a common one: these aren’t seasoned criminals worth law enforcement’s time.
This is a normal married couple that was simply growing enough cannabis for private consumption (seven plants is not much). While having guns also in the mix wasn’t the best idea, the punishment in this case does not seem to fit the “crime”–because the crime simply shouldn’t be one.
Earlier this year, a Julliard-trained cellist was charged smuggling more than one-hundred pounds of cannabis in Oregon. While that was far more of a crime, both cases go to show that normal, talented individuals often turn to post for a financial rescue.
photo credit: Kentucky State Police
The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a decree to regulate the cultivation, processing, import and export of medical marijuana on December 22. Medicinal cannabis has technically been legal in the northern-most South American country since 1986, but national production was hindered because a regulatory system was never established by previous laws.
Santos notified Colombian citizens of the new law, which establishes a system for licensing cultivators, processors and retailers, during a televised speech. Cannabis, in all forms, for medical and scientific use is now legal and able to be regulated in Colombia.
“This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants and marijuana,”
Santos announced from the presidential palace.
“It places Colombia in the group of countries that are at the forefront… in the use of natural resources to fight disease.”
President Juan Manuel Santos signing the decree legalizing the use of medical marijuana, next to Minister of Health Alejandro Gaviria, in Bogota on December 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/Juan Pablo Bello)
Now that the decree to regulate medicinal cannabis has been signed, those seeking to cultivate cannabis will be able to apply for licenses through the National Narcotics Council. Manufacturing licenses, for those who wish to process cannabis into concentrates and edibles, will be permitted by the health ministry.
Manufacturing regulations will be just as important as cultivation so that patients can have safe, reliable access to non-smokeable forms of cannabis, like concentrates which can be vaporized and infused foods and tinctures which can be ingested.
“Our goal is for patients to be able to access medications made in Colombia that are safe, high-quality and accessible. It is also an opportunity to promote scientific research in our country,”
The decree also permits health ministry licensed companies to export cannabis products to other countries.
Colombia now joins Uruguay, where cannabis was fully legalized in 2014 and Chile, where the government is also reportedly looking to establish an international sales market for their medical cannabis program, in the group of South American countries which have chosen to reform national cannabis policies.