Will 2016 Be The Year That Arkansas Voters Approve Medical Cannabis?
Last week Arkansas' Secretary of State announced that group Arkansans for Compassionate Care had gathered enough signatures to put medical cannabis on the 2016 ballot. The same group had successfully placed a similar initiative on the 2012 ballot. That initiative was unfortunately defeated in 2012 (51.44% to 48.56%), but a lot has changed since then.
Four years have gone by since the 2012 defeat, and the world of cannabis has evolved quite a bit. Other states such as Pennsylvania and Louisiana have legalized medical cannabis, and at least one other state (Florida) will be voting on medical cannabis in 2016, in addition to a handful of states that will be voting on adult-use legalization.
Has enough changed to make up the less than 3% gap that resulted in a loss in 2012? I definitely think so.
Public support for cannabis continues to increase
Cannabis is much more mainstream than it was in 2012. Support for medical cannabis is at an all time high, and seems to be growing at a steady pace. More and more people are realizing that cannabis is a very effective form of medicine, both in Arkansas and beyond.
We are learning more about the amazing cannabis plant all the time, and I think that more voters in Arkansas are ready to vote 'yes' this election compared to two election cycles ago.
A recent poll found 58% in Arkansas support for the initiative.
The Arkansas initiative could be a positive step
The Arkansas medical cannabis initiative itself will help a lot of patients if it becomes law. The initiative provides for 56 qualifying conditions, an unlimited number of cultivation centers, limited personal cultivation, and caps on business and patient fees.
As with any initiative, the 2016 Arkansas medical cannabis initiative would be at the mercy of the Arkansas Legislature, so I'm sure additional rules will be on the way. But this initiative would be a huge leap in the right direction.
A win in Arkansas would be huge on many levels. Arkansas is in the heart of America. Whereas cannabis reform victories in Western and Northeastern states are common, a win in the heart of America would be a tremendous boost for the larger battle.
If reform can occur in Arkansas, it can occur just about anywhere in the nation.
There are patients suffering all over Arkansas.
The people of Arkansas deserve safe, legal access to a medicine that is safer than many household substances, and is far safer than most pharmaceuticals. Cannabis is medicine, and those that are suffering deserve to use it legally if they choose to do so.
If you live in Arkansas, I encourage you to contribute to the campaign. You can find out more at this link here.