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WIRE: Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act makes the 2016 ballot

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A citizen-driven initiative that would allow Arkansas doctors to recommend medical cannabis for sick and dying patients will be on the November ballot.

Mark Martin, the Secretary of State, confirmed today that Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) collected 77,516 valid signatures—more than enough to place the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act on the ballot.

If voters approve the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, their state will join 25 others and Washington D.C. in allowing doctors to write recommendations for cannabis to alleviate specified medical conditions.

In 2012, ACC sponsored a similar act which came within two percent of becoming Arkansas state law. Support for the issue has only grown in the last four years, and a recent poll by Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College indicates that nearly 60% of Arkansas voters approve of doctors being able to recommend cannabis as medicine for certain conditions.

This year, however, ACC is facing competition in the form of a second initiative, The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA).

“Unfortunately,” said Melissa Fults, ACC’s campaign director, “polling suggests that if both initiatives make the ballot, it’s almost certain that both will fail. Today, as we turn toward November, I’m asking Jason Polk & David Couch to end their campaign and join us to ensure sick and dying Arkansans get the most patient-oriented initiative we can. Please do not place thousands of sick and dying Arkansans’ future in jeopardy. Patients need safe and legal access to cannabis and if you continue we risk losing the best chance that we’ve ever had. Placing two initiatives on the ballot will cause both to fail.”

The AMCA allows doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients with certain debilitating or life-threatening medical conditions. This includes conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s—but more importantly, it includes devastating conditions left out of the AMMA like lupus, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Arkansans for Compassionate Care
Arkansans for Compassionate Care is a coalition of concerned patients, physicians and allies who agree that sick and dying patients should have access to medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation when a doctor believes it to be the best treatment option for them. For tens of thousands of chronically-ill Arkansans, the pain and nausea relief afforded by cannabis helps them live comfortably without harmful side effects. But cannabis is currently unregulated and not legally available.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care offers a better choice: controlled access to a medicine that is proven to be both safe and effective, especially against the debilitating effects of chronic illness and harsh medical treatments.

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