Lawsuit Over Arkansas Medical Cannabis Proposal Underscores MMJ Industry’s Challenges in South

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With an MMJ legalization measure on the ballot this fall, Arkansas represents the medical marijuana industry’s most realistic shot at breaking into the South – a difficult region of the country to crack.

But winning over voters in a conservative area of the country will be no easy task, and MMJ supporters in the region face stiff resistance on several fronts.

Case in point: On Friday – just before the start of the holiday weekend – a group of conservative entities filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court seeking to remove the initiative from the ballot entirely. The Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values says that the measure is unclear, confusing and misleading.

It’s difficult to remove a measure that has already qualified for the ballot in Arkansas, so the lawsuit doesn’t seem like a huge threat at this time. However, the move indicates that medical cannabis opponents in the state could mount an aggressive campaign against the measure in the weeks leading up to the election. That could be enough to tip the scales in their favor at the voting booth. Recent polls have found that locals are split almost evenly on medical marijuana, so it won’t take much to sink the measure.

Representatives from the coalition have said they are currently raising money to fight the legalization initiative and expect to find support from churches and locals rather than organizations and donors outside the state.

But the pro-MMJ side has some momentum behind it and sizable resources of its own. Supporters have raised more than $260,000 for the cause to date.

An impressive amount, to be sure. The only concern is that most of that money came from the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization located in Washington DC. A small fraction of the total came from inside Arkansas, which could mean locals aren’t as involved in the cause as one would hope.

Image credit: League of Women Voters of California via flickr