(NaturalNews) After failing to successfully gain enough signatures for ballot approval in 2004, advocates of legalized medical marijuana in the state of Arkansas have finally gained an opportunity to have a medical marijuana initiative placed on the 2012 ballot.
According to a recent Reuters report, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has certified a proposed medical marijuana measure, which gives its advocates until July 6, 2012, to collect a minimum of 62,507 signatures from at least 15 Arkansas counties in order to qualify the measure for inclusion on the November 2012 general election ballot.
"We want to ensure that sick and dying patients in Arkansas have the ability to get the medicine they need, and that is sometimes medical marijuana," said Ryan Denham, campaign director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, a coalition of concerned physicians, patients, and allies who agree that sick and dying patients should have access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. The group is currently leading the charge to get the measure approved.
If all 62,507 signatures are collected by the July 6, 2012, deadline, Arkansas voters will have the opportunity to vote directly on the measure, which permits patients with serious diseases like AIDS and cancer to use medical marijuana as an alternative to harmful drug treatments that carry with them debilitating side effects.
And just like the medical marijuana legislation that has already been passed in 15 other states and the District of Columbia (DC), the Arkansas medical marijuana law would apply strictly to those with valid medical conditions. The bill would also allow approved patients to grow up to six marijuana plants of their own at home.
The group contends that marijuana is an effective treatment for neuropathic and other kinds of pain, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders, and that it helps to stimulate the appetites of patients afflicted with HIV, AIDS, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis, and dementia. More than 300 volunteers and 60 patients are currently working to gather signatures of approval, and the group is still recruiting new volunteers to help contribute to the cause.
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