Med marijuana issue likely to resurface in Arkansas - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Med marijuana issue likely to resurface in Arkansas

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (FOX13) -

It was called by some the Arkansas "Reefer-endum", but medical marijuana didn't puff-puff-pass in Arkansas.

The failure of Issue 5 has not deterred organizers, said field director Gary Fults.

"Well, we are going to try to go through the legislative process and if that doesn't work we will come right back at it with a petition in 2014," Fults said.

MORE: Arkansas voters reject medical marijuana proposal

Voters in Tuesday's election narrowly rejected the measure that would have allowed patients with certain qualifying conditions to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

With 98% of precincts reporting unofficial returns Wednesday, 51.4% of voters opposed the marijuana issue.

The defeat has somewhat emboldened its supporters.

"I think we did an awesome job, I really do," Fults said. "To first time, try to do this in the state of Arkansas, to lose by less than 30,000 with a voter turnout of 1 million - that's pretty good."

What surprised Issue 5 backers was the percentage of voters in eastern Arkansas who supported the measure at the polls. Voters in Crittendon County said yes to medical marijuana with a whopping 54 percent. Voters in Phillips County said yes with 53 percent. Voters in Lee County Arkansas said yes with 51 percent.

Even counties where Issue 5 lost, it lost by very little.

"Almost every county except for maybe a few we were losing by 51 percent, or 52 percent, in almost all of those counties," Fults remarked.

Issue 5 organizers say it came down to the cities versus those who live in the rural areas, those who lived in the Metro areas supported it, and those who live in the county voted against it. They also say they lost because they started their advertising campaign too late.

The failed proposal saw the strongest support in Arkansas' urban areas and in a handful of Mississippi Delta counties while rural areas overwhelmingly rejected the measure.

Complete but unofficial election returns show the strongest support in Pulaski and Washington counties, where 56% of voters supported the proposal. Voters in Carroll, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Lee, Perry, Phillips and Woodruff counties also supported the measure.

But the proposal, which would have legalized medical marijuana to patients with qualifying conditions, was soundly rejected in rural areas.

In Boone, Cleveland, Howard, Pike, Sevier and White counties, at least 60% of voters opposed the proposal.

Fults admits there are things to work on. Arkansans for Compassionate Care may need to do away with a provision that would allow patients to grow marijuana if they live more than five miles from a dispensary.

"I think we are going to sit down and rework the petition some, and tweek it where the problems that people had with it and try to fix those problems," he said.

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The Associated Press in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report

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