Arkansas voters won’t be able to cast a ballot this year on legalizing medical marijuana.
The group Arkansans for Compassionate Care says they’ll be back out gathering signatures in two months to get the issue on the 2016 ballot, after failing to get enough signatures to put it before voters in November.
“It’s not the end of the road for us. We are just going to take a vacation,” said Gary Fults, an organizer for Arkansans for Compassionate Care.
The deadline for getting enough signatures was Monday.
“Last night when we got to 47 thousand, and we were just about through counting, the reality hit us that we weren`t going to be able to get enough signatures,” Fults said.
The initiative needed 62,507 signatures in order to be on the 2014 ballot.
Supporters say the low numbers, less than 50 thousand, aren`t a sign that Arkansans are opposed to legalizing medicinal marijuana.
“The weather was the single biggest thing that hurt us,” Fults said.
Those who oppose the initiative say it was only a stepping stone to legalizing the drug for recreational use.
“We believe, basically, that these initiatives have a hidden agenda to them,” said Steve Lowry, a former DEA agent. “What it is about is not medicine. It’s about getting high.”
Some say legalizing medicinal marijuana would portray the state in a bad light.
“We do not need, basically as a society, to say that smoking dope is okay,” Lowry said.
But, those with the Arkansans for Compassionate Care say their group doesn`t support marijuana for recreational use.
“We`ve never been about for [recreational] legalization. We never will be about for [recreational] legalization. We don`t support for [recreational] legalization,” Fults said.
Opponents say they will continue working against a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana.
“If there’s another initiative that comes forward, we are going to fight that by all legal means necessary,” Lowry said.
Another group seeking to put medical marijuana on the November ballot decided a couple of months ago they wouldn’t be able to get enough signatures, which led them to end their efforts.