Professor Explains Legal Difference Of 2016 Push To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- On Wednesday (Feb. 17), Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved the popular name of an amendment that would legalize medical marijuana.

University of Arkansas law professor Jon Marshfield said the approved description of the proposed amendment would be available to voters if the measure makes it to the November ballot.

"This summary that the attorney approved yesterday is actually a really helpful device for voters to be able to make an informed decision about what they're voting on," Marshfield said.

He said the 2012 push to legalize medical marijuana was in the form of a statute, which requires a simple majority vote to make changes. Marshfield said the push that's happening now is a constitutional amendment with a provision that would require 2/3 majority vote to make any changes to the amendment.

"This isn't just an attempt to amend the constitution," Marshfield said. "There's a provision in this that actually tries to make this more difficult to amend then other provisions of the constitution, so you could almost think of this proposal as a super constitutional amendment."

Attorney David Couch drafted the amendment and he said he has no doubt that if they get the signatures required, voters will pass the measure in November.

"People get that it's medicine," Couch said. "If they treat it like medicine they'll approve it."

Couch will need to gather 85,000 signatures by July 9 to get the amendment on the ballot.

The amendment to legalize medical marijuana is separate and different from the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, which was drafted by Arkansans For Compassionate Care. The attorney general approved the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act in 2014 and the group behind the initiative has been collecting signatures ever since to also get it on the ballot in November.

2 comments

  • lurker48

    So she puts the carrot on a stick. Then makes the stick longer so you can’t reach the carrot. Normal republican move, did Ted Cruz draw this up.

  • Mike Haring

    Win or lose, thank you David for helping expose the state to Medical Cannabis. As a residence of Colorado with 15 years of medical and a few years of legal Cannabis behind us it seems almost fictional that states and voters are still living under near draconian medical marijuana laws. Across Colorado children with epileptic seizures are being treated with low THC, high CBD content with great success. Last week the Children’s Hospital in Aurora started participation in a Marijuana research project s allowing a young patients parents to administer cannabis oil in the hospital to stop her from
    The newest research shows no increase in crime. And near monthly valid medical uses are appearing in recognized medical journals such as JAMA. There is evidence to support treatment of certain brain disease. Numerous supporting studying on marijuana as a treatment for the effects on lungs from tobacco smoking, chronic pain, neuropathic (nerve) pain, and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia. There are issues that have arisen but they are minor and manageable. Tourism has skyrocketed. The state coffers overflowing from the influx of green tourist. 4000 people a month are moving to Denver causing housing prices and rental rates to double and triple. Realtors are all smiles and say there is not end in sight.
    The most amazing thing about Marijuana in Colorado is what you don’t see. Many people claimed society would melt down, crime would run rampant. Yet that didn’t happen. In fact you would be hard pressed to notice any differences today versus pre-legalization. Life in Colorado is unchanged with legalized marijuana is unchanged. Those who choose to use are regulated, taxed and abide by a strict set of laws. Those who don’t could hardly notice any difference.
    The data is and Marijuana is a valuable addition to medical treatment. The war against marijuana is over in 24 states across america. Stop listening to opponents using fear tactics and start listening to states and citizens that have real world experience. Responsible use is and has been occurring across the country for up to 20 years. If Arkansas wants to solve the debate and criminal problems associated with marijuana all they to do is legalize it in November.

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