The following is a press release from the Family Council Action Committee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Family Council Action Committee President Jerry Cox issued a statement Tuesday after Arkansans for Compassionate Care, a group supporting a ballot measure to legalize marijuana in Arkansas, announced the Secretary of State had certified their petition signatures and that their proposal will be placed on the November ballot.
“This proposal violates federal law,” Cox said. “Marijuana is illegal. This proposal admits that states do not have the ability to change that law, and says, ‘This act also acknowledges that marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under Federal law.’ Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents frequently bust medical marijuana operations in states where they exist, such as California. Putting Arkansas in the middle of all of this just doesn’t make sense. Why would we want to pass a law that blatantly violates federal law? Why would we invite that kind of turmoil to Arkansas?”
Cox also said he believed the measure is vaguely worded. “I believe a lot of people who signed this petition probably did not fully understand the scope of this measure. Among other things, it says that if a ‘patient’ lives more than five miles from a marijuana dispensary, they are free to grow their own marijuana. In other words, if you live in west Little Rock and the nearest dispensary is in downtown Little Rock, you can grow marijuana in your flower garden, and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it.
“Most of the people who signed this petition probably did not know that. They probably envisioned doctors and pharmacists being heavily involved in the prescription process. The people dispensing marijuana under this measure are not held to the same standards as pharmacists dispensing medicine. Petition signers probably did not know that either, and they probably were not even aware that the measure is entirely illegal under federal law. If it’s enacted, I think a lot of Arkansans will find the law on the books is not the one they thought they were voting for.”
Cox pointed out that easing restrictions on illegal drugs isn’t in the best interest of families. “Substance abuse creates very real problems for families,” Cox said. “If a husband or wife is addicted to something, it’s going to put a strain on that marriage. It’s going to put a strain on their kids. If you think we have problems with marijuana now, just wait until it becomes legally available.”
Cox said, “This law leaves way too many questions unanswered. How are we going to be sure medical marijuana grown in Arkansas isn’t sold illegally to people without a prescription? I’ve read marijuana can be cultivated with varying levels of active ingredients in it much the same way nicotine levels can be manipulated in tobacco. How are they going to keep marijuana growers from using that to make their product more potent or addictive?”
Cox also questioned the use of medical marijuana to treat illness. “It’s the only medicine you smoke. The health community has spent almost fifty years trying to stop smoking. Now a group of people wants Arkansas doctors to start encouraging just that: Smoking for your health. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Cox said that if the medical community is serious about pursuing any health benefits of marijuana, it should lobby Congress and the DEA to alter its regulations. “The opium plant is restricted differently because even though it carries a high risk of abuse, it has some known medical uses. If doctors believe marijuana may have health benefits, they should lobby Congress to apply the same restrictions to marijuana as they do to opium. That would be the legal way to do this. Instead Arkansans are being asked to vote on a measure that is patently illegal under federal laws passed by Congress. That simply is not right.”
Cox indicated that Family Council Action Committee is reviewing all of its options for fighting this proposal, including a possible legal challenge.
Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c)(4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.