Both Sides of Medical Marijuana Debate

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS -- Medical marijuana made it to the ballot for the November 2012 election, but the proposition did not pass.

49-percent of Arkansans supported the measure, while 51-percent voted against it. The difference was less than 30,000 votes. In all, 13 of Arkansas' 75 counties passed the medical marijuana issue but it was not enough to legalize it in the Natural State.

Organizations like the Arkansas Family Council have been speaking out against the issue since the very beginning. They were surprised to see the proposition make it on the ballot in 2012 and are working very diligently to keep it off the 2014 ballot. In speaking with Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox, he said he would not be against the use of medical cannabis in an oil form if it was FDA approved, regulated and treated like any other prescribed medication. As far as the medical marijuana measures currently proposed though, he is strongly against them.

"If this were about medicine, the people who are promoting this would be going to the Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for it as a drug that would be distributed with a prescription, from a doctor, through a pharmacy, the way we do other drugs. That's not what they're asking for. These measures involve things like growing your own marijuana at home," said Cox.

He fears this proposal is a backdoor way to legalize marijuana for all purposes and feels like this measure is not written for those actually in need of cannabis for medical use. But folks with Arkansans for Compassionate Care believe changes to the proposition should take care of many concerns.

Campaign Director Melissa Fults wants to see medical marijuana legalized, but understands why some voters might have been worried about people growing weed in their homes. This time around, she explained stricter regulations under the new "Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act" means growing marijuana for medical use will be very restrictive.

"The health department at any given time, between 8 to 5, Monday through Friday can walk up to your door if you have a grow license, knock on your door, say I want to see your grow room, I want to see your license, I want to see everything about it... They have to have records of what they've got, where it has gone to, everything," said Fults.

The organization needs more than 62,507 signatures to put the act on the November ballot and still has to collect around 50,000 by the July 7 deadline.

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