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med-marijuanaBoth of the medical marijuana referendum issues on the 2016 ballot were challenged in court by the same consortium of anti-marijuana lobbying and business interests in Arkansas.

UPDATE 10/13/16: The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed the group’s remaining suit against Issue 6, so Issue 6 will remain on the November 8 ballot.

UPDATE 9/27/16: The group’s only remaining suit is against Issue 6, as their complaint against Issue 7 has been rejected by the state Supreme Court.

Issue 7 – Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA)

On August 24, 2016 a newly formed group, Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, asked the state Supreme Court to bar the Secretary of State from counting or certifying of votes for Issue 7, The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.

However, on September 22, 2016, their suit failed when the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected their challenge. The group then petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court to rehear their complaint, but the Court rejected that petition, as well, on September 27, 2016.

Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana says said Issue 7 “omits material information that is essential for a fair understanding of the act.” Their complaint goes on to say Issue 7’s ballot title doesn’t explain to voters that dispensaries could sell food and drink that contain marijuana, and that the ballot title is incomplete and misleading because it doesn’t fully explain the Act’s effect would have on employers, landlords, churches, and schools.

The new anti-marijuana group includes the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities, Arkansas Committee for Ethics Policy, and the Family Council Action Committee. When the suit was filee, Arkansas’s Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, group spokesperson, indicated they might also challenge the actual petitions placing the measure on the ballot, adding

“The general public deserves to have a ballot initiative that accurately describes what the legislation will do and what it’s about, and the attorneys didn’t feel that was the case, which is why they filed the suit.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court failed to block a very similar medical marijuana measure in 2012, and Melissa Fults of sponsoring group Arkansans for Compassionate Care said, “I feel very confident that it will pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court and will be on the ballot.”

Arkansas voters did not pass the 2012 measure that Arkansans for Compassionate Care had also sponsored, but the margin was very close in that 51.44% “against” vs. 48.56% “for” vote.

Issue 6 – The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA) of 2016

Continuing its efforts to bar both medical marijuana referendum issues from the 2016 ballot, the same group, Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, filed a similar suit on September 2, 2016 against Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA).

The suit lists similar problems with Issue 6 the group sees in Issue 7: the “ballot title fails to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and import of the proposed Amendment,’ in part because it “fails to tell voters that the Amendment permits marijuana dispensaries to sell food and drink that contains marijuana” and that “employers may not base hiring and firing decisions on a job applicant’s or employee’s use of marijuana.”

The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the Secretary of State from counting votes for Issue 6.