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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.

Bernie Canter

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