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420 with CNW — Modified Ballot Measure to Broaden Medical Marijuana Approved in Arkansas

Efforts to enhance accessibility to medical marijuana are gaining traction in Arkansas as advocates and industry stakeholders push for a constitutional amendment slated for the November ballot. Tim Griffin, the state’s attorney general, recently gave the green light to the proposed amendment’s ballot language after making some revisions. Now, supporters have until July 5, 2024, to secure approximately 90,704 registered voters’ signatures, a crucial step in securing a spot on the Nov. 5, 2024, general election ballot.

The ballot committee supporting the proposal, Arkansans for Patient Access, is led by Bill Paschall, executive director of the Arkansas Marijuana Industry Association. He stated that industry stakeholders are prepared to present the amendment’s case.

The proposed amendment would allow patients to grow their own marijuana plants, which would improve accessibility to the drug. In addition, the measure aims to remove retail limitations on some smokable goods, such as pre-rolled joints, and expand the eligibility for marijuana patients’ ID cards. Notably, it also contains clauses that might allow Arkansas to legalize marijuana for recreational use if federal restrictions change.

The majority of the AG’s requested revisions to the ballot title and popular moniker Arkansans for Patient Access were small, technical adjustments. The most significant modification was adding “medical marijuana” to the title instead of “cannabis.” The amended proposal is now the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024.

According to Paschall, the initiative’s counsel had reservations about the amended ballot title’s length, but after some consideration, the organization has decided to approve it. In previous election cycles, challengers to ballot initiatives have focused their legal objections on the length of the ballot title.

The proposed changes build upon the existing Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, ratified in 2016, which legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Important changes include removing restrictions on qualifying medical conditions, increasing the number of healthcare providers certified to certify patients for medical cannabis, and allowing designated caregivers and patients to grow cannabis plants. The proposal also intends to waive ID card registration fees, expand access for out-of-state residents, expedite patient telemedicine assessments and prolong the life of new patient cards.

Additionally, it introduces a recreational marijuana trigger law that, under certain federal regulatory changes, allows adult possession of marijuana up to an ounce. It also suggests protections against legislative changes to constitutional amendments made without voter consent.

While proponents advocate for expanded access to medical cannabis, other groups, such as the Family Council, have opposed the move. This opposition is based on several issues, including  concerns about potential recreational use implications. The opposition underscores the contentious nature of the proposed changes.

The cannabis industry and leading players such as Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF) will be hoping that the desired cannabis-law reforms are passed and patients can obtain the expanded access to medical marijuana that they need.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of an article each business day at 4:20 p.m. Eastern – a tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. The concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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