Ark. SC: Medical marijuana proposal can appear on ballot

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 28, 2012, 9:15am


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of allowing state residents to vote on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act -- otherwise known as Issue No. 5 -- will appear on the state's Nov. 6 ballot.

The Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values, led by Jerry Cox, who is also the head of the Arkansas Family Council, sued last month to keep the measure off the ballot.

The coalition of conservative groups argued that its title, in particular, was misleading and that the proposal was difficult to understand.

But the group backing the measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, countered that it was sufficiently fair to go before voters.

More than 120,000 Arkansas residents signed ACC's petition supporting the legalization of medical marijuana last year.

"Mr. Cox's lawsuit revolved around technicalities and loopholes -- and our state's Supreme Court saw right through it," ACC spokesman Christopher Kell said in a statement Thursday following the ruling.

"We're happy to have this legal issue behind us and look forward to educating the people of Arkansas on the medicinal properties of marijuana and how the patients of this state will benefit when this issue passes."

Justice Karen R. Baker, who authored the Court's ruling, said CPAV failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that the ballot measure "clearly conflicts" with any constitutional provision.

"Further, CPAV has not provided evidence that the Act is clearly contrary to any state and federal laws, as it bases its assertions on situations that may arise, if the law is passed, not language that is clearly contrary to either the constitutions or state and federal law," she wrote in the Court's 15-page decision.

"In conclusion, having reviewed the entirety of the parties' briefs and arguments, we hold that the popular name and ballot title are an intelligible, honest and impartial means of presenting the Act to the people for their consideration. We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring."

According to The Associated Press, Arkansas will be the first Southern state to put such a question before voters.

So far, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some fashion.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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Arkansas Supreme Court
625 Marshall St
Little Rock, AR 72201

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