Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approves medical marijuana ballot initiave

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 7:26 PM

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today certified a ballot initiative submitted by Little Rock attorney David Couch to legalize medical marijuana. 

Couch must now collect 85,000 signatures from registered voters to get the measure on the ballot this fall. Here is the popular name and ballot title certified by Rutledge: 

Popular Name

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016


Ballot Title

An amendment to the Arkansas constitution making the medical use of marijuana legal under state law, but acknowledging that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law; establishing a system for the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities and granting those dispensaries and facilities limited immunity; providing that qualifying patients, as well as dispensary and cultivation facility agents, shall not be subject to criminal or civil penalties or other forms of discrimination for engaging in or assisting with the patients’ medical use of marijuana; requiring that in order to become a qualifying patient, a person submit to the state a written certification from a physician licensed in the state that he or she is suffering from a qualifying medical condition; establishing an initial list of qualifying medical conditions; directing the Department of Health to establish rules related to the processing of applications for registry identification cards and the addition of qualifying medical conditions if such additions will enable patients to derive therapeutic benefit from the medical use of marijuana; directing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to establish rules related to the operations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing a Medical Marijuana Commission of five members, two appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, two appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one appointed by the Governor; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall administer and regulate the licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; providing that there shall be at least 20 but not more than 40 dispensary licenses issued and that there shall be at least four but not more than eight cultivation facility licenses issued; setting initial maximum application fees for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing qualifications for registry identification cards; establishing standards to ensure that qualifying patient registration information is treated as confidential; directing the Department of Health to provide the General Assembly annual quantitative reports about the medical marijuana program; setting certain limitations on the use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients; establishing an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana; establishing registration and operation requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; setting limits on the amount of marijuana a dispensary may cultivate and the amount of marijuana a dispensary may dispense to a qualifying patient; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall determine the amount of marijuana a cultivation facility may cultivate; prohibiting certain conduct by and imposing certain conditions and requirements on physicians, dispensaries, dispensary and cultivation facility agents, and qualifying patients; establishing a list of felony offenses which preclude certain types of participation in the medical marijuana program; providing that the sale of usable marijuana is subject to all state and local sales taxes; providing that the state sales tax revenue shall be distributed 5% to the Department of Health, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division, 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission, 10% to the Skills Development Fund, 50% to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, and 30% to the General Revenue Fund; and permitting the General Assembly by two-thirds vote to amend sections of the amendment, except that the General Assembly may not amend the sections legalizing the medical use of marijuana and setting the number of dispensaries or cultivation facilities allowed.

Rutledge has previously rejected other marijuana-related ballot initiatives, including earlier versions of this one from Couch, citing "ambiguous language." Rutledge had rejected at least eight proposed ballot initiatives related to marijuana, and Couch had complained that she was motivated by politics. 

Three other marijuana petitions, covering both pure legalization and medical marijuana only, are already circulating. All were approved for the ballot in 2014, before Rutledge took office.

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