Cannabis campaigns in Arkansas, North Dakota submit signatures for ballot initiatives

Pro-marijuana political campaigns in both Arkansas and North Dakota submitted thousands of signatures in recent days to place cannabis ballot questions before voters this coming November, with both groups expressing confidence that they’ve surpassed the minimum qualifications.

In the South, Arkansas for Patient Access said on Friday it handed over more than 114,000 voter signatures gathered in support of its ballot measure, KATV reported. The campaign needs 90,704 valid signatures from registered voters to be placed on the November ballot.

If ultimately approved by voters, the Arkansas initiative would broaden the existing medical cannabis market by expanding which health care professionals can write patient recommendations for cannabis, increasing the number of medical conditions that make patients eligible for the program, erasing patient renewal fees, and allowing home marijuana cultivation.

“Our canvassers found voters eager to place an amendment on the ballot that will eliminate barriers to access and make it less expensive to acquire and keep a medical marijuana card,” Arkansans for Patient Access campaign spokesman Bill Paschall said in a statement.

The attempt at expanding medical cannabis access comes two years after Arkansas voters rejected a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana was legalized in the state in 2016.

Arkansas election officials have 30 days to review the validity of the signatures submitted, the AP reported.

In North Dakota, a similar political rematch is shaping up between activists who submitted more than 22,000 signatures to the secretary of state in support of a ballot measure to legalize adult-use marijuana, with a threshold of 15,582 needing to be found valid by Aug. 12.

The campaign, called New Economic Frontier, is partially focused on keeping a potential recreational cannabis industry run by locals, the AP reported.

“A lot of what we don’t want to see is what’s going on in some of the other states, and we think that this is a measure that fits the conservative nature of North Dakota,” campaign committee chairman Steve Bakken told the AP.

Although North Dakota voters shot down recreational legalization twice already – in 2018 and 2022 – medical marijuana was approved at the ballot box in 2016, and there are roughly 10,000 registered patients in the state.

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