Intra-community disputes can get a bit heated within the cannabis law reform community, especially when two opposing campaigns take the time and effort to place initiatives on the ballot. Sometimes, those disputes can spill over into the public arena as is the case in Arkansas, where a lifetime member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is suing to remove the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act from the November 2016 ballot.
Why would a cannabis law reform supporter oppose a medical cannabis effort? While there is no definitive answer yet, one can strongly speculate that the NORML member supports the competing Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment more for some reason. Two competing cannabis initiatives isn’t uncommon in the cannabis political world, but two actually qualifying for the ballot is, and it certainly raised quite a few eyebrows within the activist world. It is unclear how the measures would impact each other politically and there is certainly the fear that voters will either split their votes or vote “no” on both due to the confusion.
David Couch, the Little Rock attorney behind the more restrictive AMMA, admitted to Marijuana.com that he “provided information” to support Benca’s suit, but didn’t respond directly to questions about whether he merely complied with requests for help or was involved in initiating the case from the beginning.
“We are a small town,” he said. “I’ve worked with them and know them. I don’t think anyone contacted anyone.”
Paul Armentano, deputy director for NORML, said his organization has not “picked a side among these dueling initiatives.”
Ballotpedia lists a comparison of the two measures. Of most importance to patients, in my opinion, is that the AMCA, the initiative Benca is trying to disqualify, would allow home cultivation and their would be a cap limit set on the fees imposed on the required state patient registration cards (I highlighted the home cultivation portion):
While I haven’t studied the two measures extensively, I’ll admit that I tend to support measures that allow for some type of home cultivation. Home gardens can provide a supply of medicine to patients if their locality has banned dispensaries or retail prices are unaffordable. Also, many patients can find the act of cultivating their medicine very therapeutic. Regardless of how this suit turns out, I hope that Arkansas patients will have the safe access they need and that the local cannabis community can unite to continue to improve the Natural State’s cannabis laws.