LITTLE ROCK — A coalition of Christian conservative groups has scheduled a news conference this afternoon to announce stepped up opposition to a ballot proposal that would legalize marijuana for medical use in Arkansas.
The Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values includes members of the Family Council Action Committee, which has been the most vocal opponent of the measure, along with the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, Families First Council and the Arkansas Family Coalition.
The secretary of state’s office last week certified the proposed Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act for the Nov. 6 general election ballot after determining that its sponsors had submitted the required 62,507 signatures of registered voters to qualify to put the measure before voters.
At the time, Family Council Executive Director Jerry Cox said the group was reviewing all of its options for fighting the proposal, including a possible court challenge. Opponents will announce their plans at a 1:30 p.m. news conference at the state Capitol.
The proposed initiated act would allow up to 30 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state but would give cities and counties the option of banning them. The marijuana would only be available to people with prescriptions for certain health conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, Hepatitis C and those who are terminally ill.
The proposal would allow limited cultivation of marijuana by a qualifying patient, or the patient’s designated caregiver, if the patient lives more than five miles from a dispensary.
Opponents of the measure have called the provision to allow certain people to grow their own marijuana a back-door means of legalizing the drug, which critics also notes is still illegal under federal law.