Although Arkansas voters rejected a medical marijuana initiative on Tuesday, supporters of the measure say they will modify it and try again. If the measure had passed, it would have been the first medical marijuana law to be approved in a southern state, according to the Associated Press.
The measure was narrowly rejected. It would have allowed patients with qualifying conditions to purchase marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries with a doctor’s recommendation. The AP reports more than 500,000 voters cast ballots for the initiative, while about 390,000 voted for President Obama.
“We’ll try to get it through the General Assembly and if that doesn’t work, we’ll take it back to the people,” said Chris Kell, campaign strategist for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group that advocated for the measure. “I think this vote just shows that it’s really not as controversial as everybody thought.” Kell noted the group may drop a provision that would have allowed patients to grow marijuana if they live more than five miles away from a dispensary.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, who opposed the measure, said he was surprised by how much support it received. He said he was concerned about how much the initiative would have cost the state, and about the conflict it would have created with federal law. “There are some legitimate arguments in terms of health care compassion that I don’t quarrel with at all,” he told reporters.