LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Two competing medical marijuana issues are printed on the ballot, but only votes for one will count. Early Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified Issue 7, The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.
With early voting already starting on Monday, it's left some voters frustrated saying their votes won’t count. About 150,000 Arkansans have cast their ballots in the first three days, some of them voting in favor of issue 7. Some have even said that they voted for Issue 7 but against Issue 6 because the two ballots allowed voters a choice.
Issue 7, sponsored by Arkansans for Compassionate Care, would have legalized medical marijuana and allowed some patients to grow their own. While the Secretary of State validated that enough signatures were submitted, Attorney Kara Benca challenged the validity of signatures, finding problems regarding canvasser background checks and date conflicts. Benca is a member a NORML, a group that works to reform marijuana laws.
Now, votes already cast for issue 7 will be disqualified and The Secretary of State's office said voters who already cast their ballots cannot vote again. One voter, Regina Cornish, voted in favor of Issue 7 saying it would provide relief for herself and her daughter.
“I have seen my daughter and my mother suffer things no one should suffer,” said Cornish. “To be told my voice, my vote, my hopes for my child, they’re just wiped away, this isn’t okay.”
Melissa Fults, behind Issue 7 said she will ask for a rehearing. For now, she's encouraging supporters to also vote for Issue 6, The Medical Marijuana Amendment that would legalize marijuana without allowing patients to grow it. David Couch is behind issue 6. It was also challenged, but the Supreme Court allowed it to remain on the ballot.
“A lot of times people were going to be confused as to six or seven and they were concerned about the ‘grow your own’ and now that they know the measure that's left doesn't allow people to grow their own marijuana, I think they'll support it overwhelmingly," said Couch.
Many THV11 viewers have asked questions about the timing of this. The challenge has actually been in front of the Supreme Court since September and with the thorough process, it took until today to come out with this opinion. Governor Asa Hutchinsan said the legislature should look at moving up the deadline for submitting ballot measure petitions to prevent the court from having to make decisions on initiatives so close to Election day.