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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Sponsors of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act were denied 30-day extension to gather new signatures.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC), sponsors of the Issue 7, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA), on Monday filed for a rehearing from the Arkansas Supreme Court on its decision to strike more than 12,000 validated signatures. The ACC painstakingly ran a grassroots campaign with more than 1,600 volunteers since its predecessor campaign faced a narrow defeat during the 2012 election.

Melissa Fults, Arkansans for Compassionate Care: "Quote: [Melissa Fults for State Representative]
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Melissa Fults, Arkansans for Compassionate Care:
“We are filing for a rehearing today because we believe sick and dying patients in Arkansas deserve to have an option to vote for a medical cannabis program that was designed for protecting patients”
[Melissa Fults for State Representative]

In light of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling to strike 12,104 signatures from the ballot, more than 70 percent of those signatures, validated by the Secretary of State, were thrown out at large due to subjective reasoning and interpretation of the law.

Thousands of registered voting Arkansans expressed interest to sign petitions in support of the AMCA, interest which has expanded since the 2012 election of which is also supported by a recent Gallup poll reflecting a record 60 percent of Americans support legal cannabis. After ACC submitted signatures, the campaign was not allowed to continue gathering signatures they say they “are confident were attainable.”

“We are filing for a rehearing today because we believe sick and dying patients in Arkansas deserve to have an option to vote for a medical cannabis program that was designed for protecting patients,” said Melissa Fults, director of Arkansans for Compassionate Care. “The AMCA is patterned from a model similar to those already active within 25 other states; therefore, we are confident this will be a viable, flourishing program for communities in our state.”

ACC needed valid signatures from 8 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial general election; 67,887 signatures of registered voters are required in order for the Ballot Measure to be placed on the November 8, 2016, general election ballot. Of the 117, 547 signatures submitted, 77, 516 were validated by the Arkansas Secretary of State. Kara Benca needed to invalidate 9,629 to have Issue 7 removed from the ballot.

It is important to note that because the Arkansans for Compassionate Care had more than the number of required signatures at the time of submission and validation, they were not allowed to continue collecting.

Competing medical marijuana proposal Issue 6, characterized by Issue 7 proponents as less friendly to patients and more amenable to big business, will stay on the ballot.

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