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Arkansas to vote on medical cannabis in November

Medical cannabis

ABC News reports that a measure to legalize the use of medical cannabis will be on the November ballot. The announcement is getting mixed reactions. One voter interviewed by ABC news said he believed legalizing medical cannabis would be a “positive measure”, noting that scientific evidence does seem to point towards cannabis as being a useful medicine that could “help people across the United States”.

How Arkansas would implement its medical cannabis program

The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis. Prescriptions would be taken to non-profit cannabis care centers that would be tasked with growing and distributing cannabis to patients. Any profits made would be ploughed into making cannabis available at a reduced cost for those who are in strained financial circumstances.

Although the model looks good on paper, many worry that the licensed cannabis care centers won’t be able to deal with the demand, and that some patients may find themselves so far away from centers, that getting medical cannabis would be difficult. But there’s also a proposal allowing caregivers whose patients live more than 20 miles from a center to cultivate cannabis for their patients after obtaining certification to do so.

However, given the levels of security needed for cannabis growers in most states where cannabis cultivation is legal, it seems unlikely that the average caregiver would be able to do so. Further details on this interesting proposal are awaited with interest.


“The vote will not be in favor” Arkansas resident says

Another voter interviewed by ABC news was not optimistic about voters receiving the proposed bill favorably. She points to a large over-50 demographic, an age group that studies have found to be less in favor of legalization, and “bible-belt” morality which she believes will be less accepting of legalization in any form.

The vote seems set to be a close call. An earlier referendum in 2012 received a ‘no’ vote, but the percentage against medical cannabis was only 51%. Clearly, activists are hoping that the intervening four years had brought about a change of heart. It doesn’t even have to be a very big one – 2% of the population changing their ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ would be enough to get medical cannabis a majority in the polls.

Medical cannabis

Gallup says most American support legalization

According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 58% of Americans favor the legal use of cannabis, so even if Arkansas is rather more conservative than the rest of America, it may well be that minds have been changed since 2012, making 2016 a good time to measure public opinion once again.

According to 2015’s figures, the over 50 age group, though less supportive of medical cannabis than “Generation x”, who support it with an overwhelming 71% majority, still approve medical cannabis with a 58% majority. If Arkansas is a few percentage points lower than that, a vote in favor of medical cannabis will still be likely.

 

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