WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - The Natural State wants natural medicine. The group Arkansans for Compassionate Care wants to legalize medical marijuana.
The group is organizing a petition hoping for enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.
If the group gets enough signatures to put it on the ballot there would be strict regulations, but the idea is not sitting well with all residents.
Arkansas resident, Earnest Ecker says, "Then everybody could use it, it's the beginning of the end. I don't think it's good."
High school science teacher Holli Stewart says, "I would definitely be against that."
Stewart says despite regulations she's certain kids would get their hands on it. "It alters the brain, affects the body, affects the lungs like tobacco. We have a nation with the most preventable cause of death is cigarette smoke. We still allow young people to be exposed to that, adding marijuana to the list would create a negative health effect to our community and world."
Melissa Fults says not allowing the legal use for medicinal purposes is creating a whole other negative effect. Her 30-year-old son has been on pain pills for 12 years, and they nearly killed him.
"One doctor told me, 'I can't prescribe this, it's illegal and I will lose my license, but if he will replace one pill a day with marijuana and slowly work your way down it will save your life,'" Fults says, "and that's what he's done."
Now Fults and her husband are trying to get the 62,507 signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot. She says they haven't had much resistance so far, "The most resistance is about it being too accessible," Fults says, "but if people took the time to read the bill, its going to be closely regulated, extremely difficult to get it."
The bill would only allow for up 30 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state; cities and counties can choose to ban them. The drug would only be available with a prescription to people with certain health conditions such as glaucoma, epilepsy, Hepatitis C, post traumatic stress disorder and terminally ill conditions.
Fults says this is the fourth attempt at a petition and she hopes this time they will have enough signatures.
If it passes, Arkansas would join 16 other states that allow medical marijuana.
For more information about the petition and the bill, visit arcompassion.org