Arkansas Supreme Court clears way for medical marijuana ballot initiative

[JURIST] The Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] announced Thursday that it would allow a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana [JURIST news archive] on the November ballot. The decision [text, PDF] came as part of a lawsuit brought by the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values (CPAV) which fought the inclusion of the measure on the ballot based on the theory that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act [initiative text] was "insufficient" as the full ballot title of the act is 384 words long and that "voters will not have adequate time in the voting booth to be reasonably advised on the impact of the Act." CPAV also claimed that the initiative failed to define all the integral key terms and would have been contrary to the US and Arkansas state constitutions. In denying the claims made by the CPAV, the court said "popular name and ballot title are an intelligible, honest, and impartial means of presenting the Act to the people for their consideration" and that it was free of "misleading tendencies or partisan coloring." The court also declared it would not consider CPAV's claims of unconstitutionality that are based entirely on hypothetical situations which might arise if the initiative were enacted. Arkansas would be the first state in the south to legalize medical marijuana if the initiative passes in November.

US state and federal courts have been forced to interpret medical marijuana statutes in recent years. Earlier this month the Montana Supreme Court [official website] found there was no constitutional right [JURIST report] to medical marijuana use. In January a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] granted an American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] motion to dismiss a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging Arizona's voter approved medical marijuana law. In August 2011 a Michigan court of appeals ruled [JURIST report] that medical marijuana cannot be sold at private dispensaries. In January 2010 the California Supreme Court [official website] overturned [JURIST report] a 2003 law limiting the amount of marijuana that may be possessed under the state's Medical Marijuana Program.

 

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