Thursday, September 22, 2016

Supreme Court rejects challenge to medical marijuana act's ballot description

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 10:18 AM

The Arkansas Supreme Court today rejected a legal challenge to the sufficiency of the ballot title for an initiated act to legalize medical marijuana, dispensed by non-profit facilities.

The lawsuit, by Arkansans Against Legal Marijuana, a coalition including the Farm Bureau and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, cited a number of potential developments from the law not mentioned in the title. On one of the points, the court observed:

.. it is not necessary that a ballot title include every possible consequence or impact of a proposed measure. Further, we have noted above that it is sufficient for the ballot title to be complete enough to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and import of the proposed law.
The court concluded:

the ballot title is an impartial summary of the proposed measure that will give voters a fair understanding of the issues presented and of the scope and significance of the proposed changes in the law. 
Separately, a special master has heard testimony this week about a challenge to sufficiency of signatures on petitions to put the act on the ballot. Attacking the signatures has included a witness for a for-profit signature canvassing company, Heidi Gay of National Ballot Access, whose company was hired to gather signatures for a competing constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana sales at for-profit dispensaries. That amendment also faces a legal challenge from Arkansans Against Legal Marijuana. That company also was hired to gather signatures for an amendment to allow three additional casinos in Arkansas.

The special master is due to issue proposed findings on signatures Friday. Then the parties will submit briefs on them.

Should the initiated act survive, it's sure some of the legal arguments rejected will be part of the campaign against it: Such as the ability to see marijuana in food or drink form and the prhobition against discrimination against people who use marijuana for medicine. Other arguments included a failure to mention a lack of testing for the limited exception that allows home-grown marijuana and the possibility that state regulators could choose to ignore a cap on dispensaries of one for every 20 pharmacies.

Justice Jo Hart wrote the decision. There were no dissents.

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