One concern among those who have been campaigning for medical marijuana to be legalized in Arkansas was the fact that there will be two different ballot measures to vote on this year and it could cause confusion among voters. The two groups, one leading the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act and the other leading the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, actually worked together in 2012 to legalize medical marijuana, but when the votes fell short they went their separate ways, now creating two similar, yet still very different, initiatives for voters to decide on this November.
Now, not everyone has been concerned – David Couch, face of the Medical Marijuana Amendment, has been adamant from the beginning that voters are aware enough to realize the differences and that if people are uncertain which to vote for they should simply vote for both initiatives. On the other hand, Melissa Fultz, Director of Arkansans for Compassionate Care (who are leading the campaign for the Medical Cannabis Act) has definitely expressed concern that having two initiatives would split the vote so far that neither initiative would manage to pass this fall.
A poll conducted between September 15th and 17th, with opinions of 831 registered voters likely to participate in the election, showed that the voters are definitely aware of the differences between the two initiatives. As it stands now, the Medical Marijuana amendment might pass, just barely, if it did – but the Medical Cannabis Act certainly would not. Voters were asked two very specific questions; first question being how would they vote on the amendment (which would allow up to 40 dispensaries) and second – how would they vote on the initiated act (which would allow some dispensaries as well as “hardship” licenses allowing home growing for those who live to far from a dispensary).
The results from the first question showed that 49 percent of voters would vote yes on the amendment, while 43 percent would vote against it and only 8 percent didn’t know. Those are extremely favorable results when compared to the initiated act, for which the results show only 36 percent would vote yes, and an overwhelming 53 percent would vote against and 11 percent were uncertain. Based on just these two questions, it appears that most voters have a good understanding of both initiatives and are sure about which one they want to see pass this fall, if either one does.
“Arkansas voters do appear to distinguish between the two medical marijuana proposals, according to our survey,” said TB&P’s Roby Brock. “With legal challenges remaining, high-profile opposition, and the possibility of national groups spending money in support of the issue, these proposals may be the most contested on the November ballot.”
Now all that remains is time for the two campaigns to do their best to get the word out, educate voters on what a “yes” vote really means and who it is meant to help. The poll had a margin for error of +/- 3.4 percent, which means there is still a strong chance that the amendment would pass already – but in order to ensure the most votes possible they must continue to not only try and convince those “undecided” votes that a “yes” is the way to go, but also try and reach out to those planning to vote no – finding out why because perhaps they simply don’t know enough about medical marijuana to feel comfortable approving it – and then educating them to help them see why so many states have passed laws allowing medical marijuana and why so many more are still trying to.