The deadline is fast approaching for one medical marijuana group that’s looking to collect enough signatures to force a ballot initiative.
The group Arkansans for Compassionate Care only has half of the signatures they need. With a few weeks to go, the group’s members say they are not worried, though.
Emma Yingling is with Arkansans for Compassionate Care. She said they have between 30,000 and 35,000 signatures. To get the proposed measures placed on the November 2014 ballot, the group needs to collect 62,507 signatures by July 7.
“You’ve got to stay positive,” Yingling said. “I know people personally that need this medicine to live. When we were canvassing today, I met a woman who has a daughter with epilepsy. She told me her child can not move. She said she sees other children on the internet from Colorado and other states that have it legalized medicinally and they are walking, they are talking and they are laughing. She said she does not want to move to Colorado, because she wants to stay in Arkansas to be with her family, friends and for her job. I think about things like that and there’s no way we can’t make this happen. We’ve got to continue to fight for this.”
The group’s proposal would allow people suffering from specific diseases and painful ailments access to the drug. It would also allow those who live away from the marijuana dispensaries, perhaps in rural areas, to grow a few of their own medicinal marijuana plants.
Yingling said her group is focused on the specifics of the initiative. A medicinal marijuana initiative failed in Arkansas by two percentage points in 2012. Yingling said this time, her group has tried to fully educate voters on the positive effects of medical marijuana, a measure she believes will push the vote over the top.
Rose Dudley lives in Arkansas. She believes Arkansans should have the opportunity to vote whether to legalize medical marijuana this year.
“As far as recreational use, I’m not as lenient for that,” she said. “I do think it’s important to legalize it, so that the government can regulate it. Therefore, it would make it a little bit safer for people to have access to something like that, especially for medical usage.”
Emily Pianalto also lives in the natural state. She said if the initiative does not make it on this year’s ballot, it will likely make it in the future.
“I don’t know if we are quite there yet,” she said. “With the recent stuff that has been going on like the right for gays to get married, I feel like we are really working towards being more progressive.”
Yingling recognizes Arkansans for Compassionate Care has a long way to go before next month’s deadline, but said she’s confident the initiative will make it onto the ballot. But if it does not make it this year, she said she’s not giving up.
“I hope I don’t have to consider that, but when I see patients everyday that need this medicine to live, I couldn’t not fight for it again,” she said.
For a list of locations in Arkansas where you can sign visit Arkansans for Compassionate Care’s website.
Yingling said you must sign the ballot in person, you can not sign online.