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Medical marijuana supporters submit petitions

The group "Arkansans for Compassionate Care" dropped off roughly 70,000 signatures to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The group "Arkansans for Compassionate Care" dropped off roughly 70,000 signatures to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot.

A similar effort failed several years ago, but the group thinks this time it has a better chance.

The Secretary of State's office will spend the next few days counting the signatures gathered by the group. There is still a long way to go before the issue goes to the voters.

Volunteers rolled in box after box to the Secretary of State's office containing 11,000 pages of nearly 70,000 signatures from voters all over the state who support a medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot.

Melissa Fults is the group's campaign treasurer. She says she involved with the group because her son was in a car accident, and she says he needs medical marijuana for pain management. "I got very emotional when I wrote "Arkansans for Compassionate Care" because that's what this is about. It's completely about being compassionate."

Fults and the rest of the members of the group have spent about a year signing voters up to support the issue. "We have a woman who had cancer surgery and in 3 weeks she was out getting petitions because she needs this medication."

More than 62,000 signatures are needed, and this is just the first hurdle. Spokesperson for the Secretary of State's Office Alex Reed says step one in the process is going through making sure all the pages match. "We're trying to look at the gross number of signatures to make sure they hit the 62,500 threshold."

The process could take 6 to 10 days, and nearly 50 temporary employees have been hired to do it. They have to verify the signatures submitted within 30 days. If the group doesn't have enough, then they can have an additional 30 days to gather more signatures. The issue is still a long way off before the voters get to decide.

Members of the group say they're driven by so many patients who have come up to them thanking them for their hard work fighting for this issue. They say the movement is growing and more people keep getting involved. They say hearing the stories of patients who are in pain and suffering is what drives them to keep pushing for this issue. They say most people who are against medical marijuana just haven't ever spoken with a medical marijuana patient before.
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