At the entrance of Walmart, the sidewalk of downtown Little Rock, or perhaps strolling through your town’s summer festival – there they wait, patiently yet eagerly for our hopeful signatures. The advocates for the legalization of medical cannabis in Arkansas have arrived again, more passionate than ever.
Since September 2014, as certified by former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, the push for legal use of medical cannabis has grown to a point that finally instating such a law in Arkansas could be feasible. However, simply reaching this point of feasibility while not yet gaining state officials’ approval took pained efforts and struggles from the advocates.
In order to get the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA) on the 2016 ballot, medical cannabis advocates will need a whopping 67,887 signatures from registered Arkansas voters.
The Arkansans for Compassionate Care Act’s advocates are responsible for successfully educating Arkansans on the benefits of medical cannabis treatment. Many studies have been performed with results supporting the health improvements which medical cannabis promotes.
Business Insider online released an article in April 2014 discussing the studies and reports indicating the health conditions medical cannabis was used to treat. Among these conditions medical cannabis helped were epileptic seizures, glaucoma, and chronic pain caused by multiple sclerosis.
“I don’t see why you should ban something that could actually help someone,” Kendall Gibson, sophomore music education major, said.
CNN online also provided positive study outcomes of medical cannabis’s effects on patients with arthritis, AIDS/HIV, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
The 2013 study to which CNN refers is the “Anticancer Potential of Plants and Natural Products” by Om Prakash and Amit Kumar of Sagar Institute of Technology and Management’s Pharmacy Department in Uttar Pradesh, India. Just one portion of their research alone found that “In vitro studies of components of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) indicate a potential to inhibit human breast cancer cells and to produce tumor eradications.”
“I am an advocate with experience on both sides off the legal argument for legalizing medical cannabis,” Tommy Wright, AMCA advocate, said.
Wright was a Deputy Sheriff for over 15 years until his retirement in 2005. He then served in Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq as a military contractor for the U.S. State Department. Since his retirement and work in Iraq, Wright has been a licensed private investigator through the Arkansas State Police.
During Wright’s tenure as a Deputy Sheriff, he was assigned to the Drug Task Force for 3 years, resulting in his familiarity in dealing with illegal drugs and the use and abuse of prescription medications.
“I was involved in a horrendous vehicle accident in 2012, and the medications I was prescribed caused so many other problems,” Wright said. “I was left with no legal options to cure my chronic pain.”
Sadly, there are many cases similar to Wright’s across Arkansas. The Arkansans for Compassionate Care website currently includes the stories of 12 patients affected by the illegality of medical cannabis in the state.
After six years’ worth of effort, in 2014 Colorado advocates were successful in fully legalizing cannabis not only for medical use, but for recreational use as well. With more states recognizing the value of medical cannabis, the hope to legalize it in Arkansas is fringing upon reality.
A 2015 report showed that 84 percent of Arkansas survey participants agreed that, “Adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”
“I believe that since several other states have seen the wonderful results of legalizing medical cannabis, Arkansans are well on their way to getting past the old stigmas associated with non-medicinal cannabis use in the past,” Wright said.
However, there is still opposition to the AMCA.
In 2013, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson made several statements regarding his outright opposition to legalizing medical cannabis in Arkansas.
Recently, KATV reported that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has “rejected seven marijuana ballot titles since taking office.”
Thus, the fight continues.
Currently the Arkansas for Compassionate Care have succeeded in obtaining approximately 53,000 signatures needed out of their necessary 67,887 signature goal.
Students who are registered voters who wish to sign the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act can do so by searching for a petition location near them via the Arkansans for Compassionate Care list online.
NOTE: THV11 have reported on recent updates to the agenda! Check them out here http://www.thv11.com/news/politics/ark-ag-approves-medical-marijuana-amendment-to-be-on-2016-ballot/45765116