Initiative 6: The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016

What will be on the ballot?

An amendment to the Arkansas constitution making the medical use of marijuana legal under state law, but acknowledging that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law; establishing a system for the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities and granting those dispensaries and facilities limited immunity; providing that qualifying patients, as well as dispensary and cultivation facility agents, shall not be subject to criminal or civil penalties or other forms of discrimination for engaging in or assisting with the patients’ medical use of marijuana; requiring that in order to become a qualifying patient, a person submit to the state a written certification from a physician licensed in the state that he or she is suffering from a qualifying medical condition; establishing an initial list of qualifying medical conditions; directing the Department of Health to establish rules related to the processing of applications for registry identification cards and the addition of qualifying medical conditions if such additions will enable patients to derive therapeutic benefit from the medical use of marijuana; directing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to establish rules related to the operations of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing a Medical Marijuana Commission of five members, two appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, two appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one appointed by the Governor; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall administer and regulate the licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities; providing that there shall be at least 20 but not more than 40 dispensary licenses issued and that there shall be at least four but not more than eight cultivation facility licenses issued; setting initial maximum application fees for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; establishing qualifications for registry identification cards; establishing standards to ensure that qualifying patient registration information is treated as confidential; directing the Department of Health to provide the General Assembly annual quantitative reports about the medical marijuana program; setting certain limitations on the use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients; establishing an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana; establishing registration and operation requirements for dispensaries and cultivation facilities; setting limits on the amount of marijuana a dispensary may cultivate and the amount of marijuana a dispensary may dispense to a qualifying patient; providing that the Medical Marijuana Commission shall determine the amount of marijuana a cultivation facility may cultivate; prohibiting certain conduct by and imposing certain conditions and requirements on physicians, dispensaries, dispensary and cultivation facility agents, and qualifying patients; establishing a list of felony offenses which preclude certain types of participation in the medical marijuana program; providing that the sale of usable marijuana is subject to all state and local sales taxes; providing that the state sales tax revenue shall be distributed 5% to the Department of Health, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division, 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division, 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission, 10% to the Skills Development Fund, 50% to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, and 30% to the General Revenue Fund; and permitting the General Assembly by two-thirds vote to amend sections of the amendment, except that the General Assembly may not amend the sections legalizing the medical use of marijuana and setting the number of dispensaries or cultivation facilities allowed.

Full Text

What is in the initiative?

  • Allows patients or designated caregivers, with a registry identification card, the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.
  • Allows patients to receive up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana every 14 days.
  • “Qualifying medical condition” means one (1) or more of the following:
    • (A) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, or the treatment of these conditions;
    • (B) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one (1) or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; peripheral neuropathy; intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment, or surgical measures for more than six (6) months; severe nausea; seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; and
    • (C) Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health under § 4 of this amendment;
  • Prohibits schools, landlords and employers from discriminating based solely on a patient’s medical marijuana status.
    • They are allowed to prevent the smoking of marijuana in their properties.
  • Protects parental rights from being taken away solely based on a patient’s medical marijuana status.
  • Recognizes out of state registry identification cards.
  • Department of Health will administer these laws and issue the registry identification cards.
  • Registry identification cards will need to be renewed annually.
  • Prohibits the undertaking of dangerous tasks or operating of motor vehicles while under the influence
  • Prohibits possession and use:
    • on a school bus, at a daycare, at a school, treatment facility, community or rec center, correctional facility, public transportation, or in public.
  • Establishes where dispensaries (1,500 feet away) and cultivation facilities (3,000 feet away) are allowed to be located in regards to churches, schools and daycare centers.
  • Limits dispensaries to no fewer than 20 and no more that 40 in the state. No more than 4 in any 1 county.
  • Limits cultivation facilities to no fewer than 4 and no more than 8 in the state.
  • Licenses for each facility will need to be renewed annually.
  • Allows these facilities to be for-profit businesses.
  • Allows municipalities to prohibit these facilities if approved by voters in an election.
  • Allocates tax proceeds as follows:
    • 50% to the VoTec Training Fund, 30% to the General Fund, 10% to the Skills Dev Fund, 5% to the Department of Health, 2% to the Alcohol Beverage Admin Div, 2% to  the Alcohol Beverage Enforcement Div, and 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission Fund.
  • Creates the Medical Marijuana Commission consisting of 5 commissioners serving 4 year terms.
    • 2 Elected by the President Pro Temp of the State Senate (initially 2 and 4)
    • 2 Elected by the Speaker of the State House (initially 2 and 4)
    • 1 Elected by the Governor (initially 4)

Support For:

  • Polls show 80% of voters support medical marijuana
  • This Amendment does not allow growing for private use
  • Creates new jobs in construction of and daily operation of the dispensaries and cultivation facilities.
  • For profit system incentivises innovation and quality of medication and services.
  • This Amendment is a step toward personal freedom in deciding what medications and treatments work best for you.
  • As an Amendment, this can only be changed if the voters approve the change in a subsequent election.
  • Allows a natural alternative to the harmful, addictive narcotics the FDA has approved for use currently.

Arguments Against:

  • Arkansas Department of Health says they have not done any studies on effectiveness and safety of dosages and strains.
  • Food and Drug Administration has already approved other medications and treatments for these illnesses.
  • Too many people will be able to get a registry ID card, pharmacies will not be the ones selling the medical marijuana, and no one will be regulating the content or dosage.
  • Business owners will have to employ people who use medical marijuana along the same guidelines as any other prescription medication.
  • Children could be harmed if they ingest the edibles.
  • THC contents are higher now than they were in the 60’s.
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