Ark. AG OKs ballot name for marijuana proposal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas is one step closer to going before voters next year after the state’s top lawyer approved a request Tuesday to certify the measure’s popular name and ballot title.

The proposal from Arkansans for Responsible Medicine would allow patients with qualifying conditions to purchase marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries with a doctor’s recommendation. However, unlike a similar measure that narrowly failed in the November 2012 general election, the revised proposal would not allow certain patients to grow their own marijuana.

“The biggest glaring difference between this one and the one that was (there) last time around was ‘Grow your own,’” the group’s legal counsel, David Couch, said.

That’s also a big difference between the proposal that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel certified and another one that he rejected on Tuesday.

McDaniel cited ambiguities in rejecting a request to certify the popular name and ballot title of a separate proposal from another organization called Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2014. That group’s spokeswoman, Shannon Steece, said the organization will address McDaniel’s concerns and resubmit a similar plan, although members might have to change the popular name.

Both medical marijuana-related measures that McDaniel addressed in opinions on Tuesday are called “The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act.”

For now, Arkansans for Responsible Medicine can start gathering the signatures they’ll need to qualify for a spot on the 2014 ballot. They need 62,507 to be eligible, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

“We’ve been talking with several paid canvassing firms, and we’re going to make a decision on which one to hire and start collecting signatures,” Couch said.

Meanwhile, Steece said her group will fix what McDaniel said were several ambiguities in the proposal. Those issues include a phrase in the definition of marijuana that McDaniel says wasn’t clear enough.

“They’re basically the equivalent of dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s,” Steece said.

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