Issue 5 Goes Up in Smoke, Narrowly
Issue Five, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act failed by a razor thin margin, only able to garner 49 percent support at the end of the night. Early results were better than expected; the issue was leading in early vote tallies, sometimes gaining 52 percent of the vote.
Janine Parry, a UA professor and Arkansas Poll Director predicted before the election that if the measure got more than 40 percent support, it stood a good chance of passing again.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care raised and spent significantly more than their opponents on TV advertising in the campaign for medical marijuana. The group reported that they raised $419,000 in October alone, most of which was donated by the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington and spent on ads running in favor of the issue.
Overall the ACC raised more than $708,000 throughout its campaign, nearly 90 percent of that money coming from the MPP, according to records.
The Family Council Action Committee reported raising about $37,000 in the month of October, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values, the group which brought the lawsuit to the Arkansas Supreme Court in September seeking to strike the issue from the ballot, only raised and spent the $9000 they used for legal fees in their suit. The money came from two of the group’s members: the Families First Action Committee and the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the past few weeks, ACC has pulled out all the stops in campaigning for this act, with the most recent polls showing that about 53 percent of Arkansans polled were opposed to the act, according to the Arkansas poll.
Following the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in favor of keeping the initiative on the ballot, the ACC has been active in bringing in medical marijuana activists, physicians, patients and even celebrities to endorse the measure, which is the first of its kind in the South and therefore has drawn national attention.
Talk show host, Montel Williams made an appearance in Little Rock on Oct. 18 supporting the act and accusing the act’s opponents of using racist imagery in ads run against the act, according to the press release.
The Family Council Action Committee paid around $1000 for the 30-second advertisement to which Williams took offense. The ad showed an African-American man depicted as a drug dealer “sitting at a table with guns and filling bags with marijuana,” according to the Associated Press.
Issue five was brought the the Arkansas general election ballot after ACC volunteers, including UA student volunteers, submitted more than 69,000 signatures valid signatures — about 6,000 more than were required to get the measure on the ballot, according to the ACC website.