Latest: 140K votes already cast before court’s pot ruling


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify one of two medical marijuana proposals from the November ballot (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

Arkansas’ surgeon general says he wishes voters, rather than the courts, could have determined the fate of a plan legalizing medical marijuana in the state.

Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe is a spokesman for a coalition opposing the legalization of medical marijuana. He told The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s concerned about the Arkansas Supreme Court striking the ballot proposal, known as Issue 7, so close to the election.

The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office says nearly 142,000 people have cast ballots so far since early voting began Monday.

Bledsoe says that even though he disagrees with the marijuana plan, he wishes that the court would have let Arkansans “vote it up or down at this point.”

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9:45 a.m.

Arkansas’ top court cited problems with signatures gathered by canvassers in its ruling that disqualified a medical marijuana proposal from the November ballot.

Supreme Court justices on Thursday tossed out more than 12,000 signatures that were approved by election officials for the proposal, saying supporters didn’t comply with laws regarding registration and reporting of paid canvassers. The decision left the group nearly 2,500 signatures shy of what was needed to qualify for the ballot.

Arkansas voters will still be able to consider a competing plan legalizing the drug for medicinal uses.

Two justices disagreed with the opinion, noting that a retired judge assigned by the court to review the petitions had said more than enough valid signatures were submitted.

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9:05 a.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified a medical marijuana proposal from the November ballot, but voters will still be able to consider a competing plan.

Justices on Thursday sided with opponents of the proposed initiated act that would have allowed patients with certain medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation to purchase marijuana from dispensaries. The court ordered state officials to not count any votes cast for the measure in the Nov. 8 election. Early voting began Monday.

The proposal was one of two medical marijuana proposals on the ballot. Justices earlier this month rejected a challenge to a similar proposal.

Arkansas voters narrowly rejected legalizing medical marijuana four years ago. Advocates had cast the proposals as a way to prove there’s support for medical marijuana, even in conservative states.

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