By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 12:49 EDT
A group of Arkansas drug reform activists submitted on Monday more than double the number of signatures needed to put their medical marijuana legalization initiative before the state’s voters in November.
The signatures represented the second round of petition gathering for campaigners with Arkansans for Compassionate Care, which saw its first submission of 65,413 signatures fall short after almost half of the entries were declared invalid and purged by the Secretary of State. Organizers told The Associated Press that they submitted an additional 74,000 signatures on Monday, even though they needed fewer than 30,000.
It’s not clear if voters in Arkansas, which trends deeply Republican, will approve the measure, but nationwide polling in recent years has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for medical use.
Additionally, another recent poll showed 74 percent of Americans agree that the federal government shouldn’t interfere with states’ laws on medical marijuana, and a Gallup poll last year showed that 50 percent of Americans now support full legalization of marijuana.
The American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America and the AIDS Action Council have all said that marijuana is useful in treating symptoms of numerous diseases like multiple sclerosis, AIDS wasting syndrome and chronic nausea caused by chemotherapy, among others.
Even the nation’s largest association of doctors, the American Medical Association, has endorsed further research into marijuana’s medical properties, which could lead to the development of new medicines. Despite that promise, and the growing body of scientific knowledge on marijuana’s curative effects, most medical professionals say that inhaling smoked marijuana is not an optimal method of ingestion.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency still refuses to admit that the drug has any medical value whatsoever. So far, just 17 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use.
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