Arkansans react to failed Issue 5

    1:09 AM, Nov 8, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) Once it made the ballot, it became the most highly debated topic in Arkansas. Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal purposes? By a narrow margin, Arkansans voted no on Issue 5 but its supporters say it will be back.

    With more than a million votes cast on Issue 5, just thirty thousand kept Arkansas from legalizing medical marijuana. We wanted to know what's next and why Arkansans voted for or against it -- so we took to social media to find out.

    It became a race to the finish line.

    "It was like a football game. The momentum went back and forth throughout the night and you're just hoping that you score last and win but unfortunately, we didn't," said Attorney David Couch with Arkansans for Compassionate Care.

    He says after months of campaigning, he knew Issue 5 would be a close call.

    "You couldn't tell who was going to sign the petition or not by just looking at them. They all had a story," said Couch.

    Stories much like the comments left on our THV Facebook Page. Marolyn Robbins-Guar said, "Both my parents died of cancer. After watching them suffer to death, I would gladly have had them have access to the drug." Roberta Sparks said, "I voted for it because it has less side effects than pain meds made in a lab."

    But on the other side, there were also stories of opposition. Michael Pearrow said, "I voted against it because it will be abused." Jeanna Sheets Collins said, "I feel like it would just help teens get it more easily. I like a lot more feel it was not going to be controlled like it needs to be."

    "You could grow your own if you were more than five miles from a dispensary. That seemed to be the one issue that was brought up more than any other issue," said Couch.

    Couch says concerns raised about its regulation most likely kept voters from legalizing medical marijuana. That is why he plans to rewrite the act and hopes Arkansas legislators will take up the issue in January.

    "If anyone is more likely to sponsor it or not, it's probably someone who is not going to be up for election again because it is somewhat of a controversial issue but hopefully someone will have the courage to step up and do it," said Couch.

    Couch says they are considering the feedback they've heard and plan to revise the bill to cut out the provision that would allow patients to grow their own marijuana plants at home. He says they will come back in 2014 to put the issue on the ballot. He hopes by then, voters will be more educated on the issue.

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