August 22 was a momentous and historic day for Arkansas. Yesterday afternoon, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office contacted Arkansans for Compassionate Care to formally let them know the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2012 will be on the ballot this November. Arkansans, for the first time ever, will be able to vote to allow medical marijuana in their state. The initiative, if passed, would allow patients with serious or debilitating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, HIV, cancer, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more (full list here: http://arcompassion.org/news/2011/04/arkansas-medical-marijuana-act-language) safe access to medical marijuana.
Campaign Director Ryan Denham and the countless volunteers who call themselves Arkansans for Compassionate Care have been working hard for more than a year to collect and deliver the 65,000 signatures required for an initiative to appear on the Arkansas ballot.
This was an incredible example of how ordinary people truly can come together and do extraordinary things. The campaign organized an amazing team of volunteers from all over the state of Arkansas, running a number of huge signature drives that proved to be very successful. Thanks to Shannon Steece, the Director of Communications, the campaign had an incredible web and social media presence, which made today’s announcement even more exciting when thousands of followers began spreading the good news. While I served as President of the University of Arkansas SSDP Chapter, we made it a priority to hold events discussing medical marijuana and educate the students. We held a screening of “How Cannabis Cured Cancer”, brought US Marine Corps Veteran Glenn Kunkel to campus to discuss how he used medical marijuana for his PTSD, and hosted a debate between the Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann and former DEA Head Administrator Asa Hutchinson, in which medical marijuana was discussed at length (full debate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FR1PkpRLvo). Most importantly, we went out on campus and into the community, helping to collect signatures and to inform Arkansans that we really had a chance of getting this issue on the ballot.
This is truly a great and historic step forward for the Natural State, which, if the initiative passes come Election Day, will become the 18th state (and first in the South) to legalize medical marijuana. There are far too many Arkansans dealing with debilitating diseases and conditions, who right now have to make the choice to either continue to suffer or break the law in order to obtain relief. We need a compassionate policy in Arkansas to make sure nobody suffers unnecessarily again. Both Arkansans for Compassionate Care and University of Arkansas SSDP will continue working hard to make sure the public knows how important this initiative is for so many people, and how every vote can make a difference. If you’d like to get involved or want to know more about the campaign, please visit the website and contact Arkansans for Compassionate Care with any questions: www.arcompassion.org