Arkansas Supreme Court to Let Voters Decide on Medical Marijuana
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act – set to be on the statewide ballot in November - was recently challenged by state conservative groups that argued the ballot measure's summary was misleading and incomplete, for example, by not specifying which illnesses a person would need to have to legally obtain the drug. The groups asked the court to remove the measure from the ballot.
Arkansas Supreme Court justices rejected the argument, concluding in their opinion that the summary "informs the voters in an intelligible, honest and impartial manner" about what the measure would do.
And what would the measure do? If passed, the measure would enable people in Arkansas who have certain illnesses, such as cancer and glaucoma, to legally acquire marijuana to help relieve their symptoms. Eligible people would get a certificate to buy marijuana at dispensaries that would be set up across the state.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care is the group behind the Arkansas initiative, and they said its proposed law includes limits on the number of dispensaries selling the medicine, as well as strict controls over who is eligible to use it. Earlier this year the group gathered 120,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, almost double the number that state law requires.
Arkansas has the chance to become the first Bible belt state to approve medical marijuana, hopefully opening the door for medical relief to come to others in the southeast.
"Medical marijuana is not about providing health care to people," said Larry Page, executive director of Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, a group that is part of the opposition coalition. "What's driving this is the effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use."
Not surprisingly, Larry Page is completely ignorant of what marijuana can do as a medicine, and the fact that it is a safer and less addictive alternative to the dangerous and deadly prescription drugs pushed by the pharmaceutical companies. Or, more likely, Larry Page is being paid off by Big Pharma.
Are State Officials Violating Medical Marijuana Law in Michigan?
Last week a lawsuit was filed in Ingham County, Michigan Circuit Court charges that the state agency responsible for issuing Michigan's medical marijuana registry identification cards is violating the law by not properly carrying out its legal responsibilities.
The suit was filed Sept. 19 against Steven H. Hilfinger, who is the Director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and Rae Ramsdell, Director of the Bureau of Health Professions with LARA. It alleges that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP), which they oversee, is not acting in accordance with the state's marijuana act passed in 2008. The plaintiff in the suit is Martin Chilcutt, a U.S. Navy veteran in his late seventies, who is the founder of a group called Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access.
The lawsuit itself requests a writ of mandamus, which is a court order used to force government officials to perform their duties. Those who don't perform could be found in contempt of court.
The suit also charges that the MMMP program has not established a review panel to add new medical conditions to a list allowing qualified patients to legally use pot according to the timeline set forth in state law has not issued registry cards in a prompt manner and has failed to issue annual reports.
Attorney Thomas Lavigne filed the lawsuit against the MMMP. He said medical marijuana advocates decided to appeal to the courts after efforts to press the matter with the agency and state legislators went nowhere.
"They're failing to uphold their duty to follow the law by issuing these cards in a timely manner and their time limits have long passed. It should be a no-brainer," he said. "It's just part of a larger pattern of complete disregard for patient and caregiver rights by the state apparatus on every level."
Things have been rough for patients in Michigan since the medical marijuana law went into effect, and relations between patients and law enforcement have been strained at times. Maybe the courts can do what the politicians have failed to do.
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