Ballot Initiatives: No for Medical Marijuana, Yes for Expanded Alcohol, Minimum Wage Hike

by Associated Press  on Monday, Jul. 7, 2014 11:12 am  

LITTLE ROCK — A group pushing for legalizing medical marijuana in Arkansas says it won't have enough signatures to put its proposal before voters this fall.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care said Monday it wouldn't turn in signatures to place its proposed initiated act on the November ballot. Monday is the deadline for ballot measure campaigns to submit petitions.

Meanwhile, supporters of measures to expand alcohol sales in Arkansas and raise the state's minimum wage submitted enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot, pending Secretary of State confirmation.

Melissa Fults, campaign director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said it had collected roughly between 51,000 and 52,000 signatures, but a few thousand had to be thrown out because they weren't valid. They needed at least 62,507 signatures from registered voters.

The proposal would have allowed patients with qualifying medical conditions to purchase marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries.

Fults said the group would try to get the measure on the ballot in 2016.

Give Arkansas a Raise Now submitted its petitions Monday to put its proposed initiated act on the ballot. The group said it turned in 77,288 signatures for the proposal. Initiated acts need at least 62,507 signatures from registered voters. Monday is the deadline to submit petitions for initiatives.

The proposal would raise Arkansas' minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017. Arkansas is one of only four states with a minimum wage lower than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour.

The proposal is backed by Arkansas' top Democratic candidates, who view it as a potential campaign issue in the November election.

Let Arkansas Decide turned in 84,969 signatures Monday to the secretary of state's office to put its proposed constitutional amendment to expand the sale of alcohol on the ballot. The measure needs at least 78,133 signatures from registered voters to qualify.

Monday is the deadline for backers of proposed initiated acts and amendments to turn in petitions to qualify for the ballot. The alcohol measure would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 counties. Currently 35 Arkansas counties are dry.

The secretary of state's office will spend the next few days conducting an initial count of the signatures.

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