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Anti-marijuana group says it will fight medical marijuana amendment

A national group that worked to defeat a recreational cannabis measure in Arkansas two years ago announced today it will oppose a proposed expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program this year.

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Smart Approaches to Marijuana said in an email today that it formed a committee called “Protect Arkansas Kids” to oppose the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024. The group said it was challenging the “misguided ballot measure being pushed by pot profiteers and their allies in Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol.”

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is led by Kevin Sabet, who worked on drug policy in the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The organization’s announcement cast the proposed medical marijuana amendment as a Trojan horse that would usher in “nearly unfettered access to high potency marijuana” and could lead to “full-scale commercialization of the industry.”

The measure would increase access to medical marijuana by allowing more types of medical professionals to certify patients to buy marijuana for any debilitating condition. The proposal would also extend the life of medical marijuana cards and lift the restriction that prevents dispensaries from selling pre-rolled joints. The measure would also include a trigger provision that would legalize marijuana for adults if it is legalized federally.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana said the medical marijuana ballot initiative “proves the term ‘medical’ is a farce.”

In 2022, Smart Approaches to Marijuana worked with Safe and Secure Communities, a ballot question committee that raised $2.3 million to oppose a recreational marijuana amendment. The group received $1.25 million from Arkansas chicken mogul Ron Cameron and $750,000 from Richard Uihlein of Lake Bluff, Illinois.

A television ad from Safe and Secure Communities in 2022 claimed a “major hospital” found more than 50% of its newborns had tested positive for marijuana. The ad appeared to be based on a study from a 42-bed hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, and did not disclose that the hospital only tested 11 babies suspected of pre-natal exposure and not all 52 babies that were born at the hospital that same month, according to a 2018 report by The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana opened an office in Arkansas last year and worked against a proposal by Sen. Joshua Bryant (R-Rogers) to place a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2024 ballot



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