Medical marijuana supporters, foes begin to spar

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 122 views 

Ballot Issue No. 5, the medicinal marijuana proposal, will face opposition from a coalition of conservative action groups and law enforcement officials and supporters plan to bring a daytime TV star to the state to support their cause.

The measure, recently allowed to appear on the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court, would allow for up to 30 nonprofit dispensaries in Arkansas. Local cities and counties could choose to ban them.

Marijuana would only be available to people with a prescription for certain health conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDs, Alzheimer’s disease and several other conditions. The proposal allows for a patient to have up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana without the threat of prosecution.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, the Family Council Action Committee unveiled a TV commercial that it plans to air “in the days leading up to the election,” according to officials. The TV spot contends the proposal will it is make it easier to get illegal drugs.

“The grass growers and dope dealers will be in charge,” the ad says. “Arkansas doesn’t need a state filled with stoned-out zombies or the criminal activities that come from legalizing controlled substances.

“Our plan to defeat this marijuana measure is simple: We’re launching a grassroots campaign that will take flyers and information to churches and individuals on the local community level and we’re buying television airtime,” said Jerry Cox, executive director of The Family Council Action Committee.

The group has also launched a web site,

Cox said he thought the efforts of the supporters of the proposal were “well-intended,” but he said the measure was too far-reaching.

Supporters of the medicinal marijuana measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, are also planning to raise the profile of the issue.

Television talk show host Montel Williams will be in Arkansas before Election Day to promote the effort.

“I use medical marijuana to relieve the pain of multiple sclerosis,” Williams said. Marijuana eases my painful muscles spasms and lets me function in the high-pressure world of TV, without the debilitating side effects of legal narcotics. I’ve tried many expensive, powerful painkillers in my struggle with MS, and not one has afforded me relief — not to mention lucidity — like medical marijuana does.”

The web site for Arkansans for Compassionate Care can be accessed here.