Proposal to legalize marijuana will appear on AR ballot - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Proposal to legalize marijuana will appear on AR ballot

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WEST MEMPHIS, AR -

(WMC-TV) - A proposal to legalize medical marijuana will be on the November ballot in Arkansas.

Medical marijuana advocates succeeded in getting their proposal before Arkansas voters after turning in more than 74,000 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office.

The group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care has been rallying support across the state for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2012. This week the group gathered enough signatures to allow voters to make the final decision regarding medical marijuana on the November ballot.

"The Arkansas Department of Health will be in charge of this program and will put strict guidelines on it to prevent abuse and fraud," said Ryan Denham, Arkansas for Compassionate Care.

The proposal would allow Arkansans with qualifying conditions to purchase marijuana from non-profit dispensaries with a doctor's recommendation. Qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and Alzheimer's disease.

Some Arkansas voters are concerned that legalizing medical marijuana would increase abuse and illegal use of the drug.

"If it's for the help, fine. But if you're going to legalize it and its going to get out of order, no," said Rosie LaBattes, who lives in West Memphis.

The proposal acknowledges that marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Cornelius White is in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical reasons and beyond.

"If they end up legalizing it there would be more taxes for the state, you know, government," said White.

As for patients who need help managing illness?

"I don't know, it really doesn't bother me, I guess. As long as you don't abuse it, that's how I feel about it," said Kristen Cheers.

But voter Kristen Cheers says she is not likely to take that opinion into the voting booth in November.

The conservative Arkansas Family Council reacted to the news by saying, "This medical marijuana act violates federal law."

They presume many of the more than 74,000 people who signed the petition did not know that.

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