Medical Marijuana Initiative Popular Among Arkansas Voters, New Poll Finds

A new poll shows that a majority of voters in Arkansas are in favor of a medical marijuana initiative.

Voters in Arkansas strongly support the passing of a medical marijuana initiative, according to a recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll. In the survey, 58 percent of voters responded they would vote for a medical marijuana proposal that would give patients suffering from “serious debilitating medical conditions” and with a doctor’s recommendation legal access to cannabis.

The survey, conducted on June 21, involved 751 likely Arkansas voters. Thirty-four percent responded they were opposed to such a proposal, while 8 percent said they were unsure.

Arkansas voters may be faced with two competing medical marijuana initiatives this November. One, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, has already qualified for the ballot. Supporters of a second medical cannabis initiative, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, are still collecting signatures and the proposal could also qualify.

A medical marijuana initiative was presented to Arkansas voters in 2012 but narrowly failed by 2 percent.

“Going back to the 2012 election cycle when medical marijuana first popped up on the policy agenda in Arkansas, we have polled the issue a number of times. Polling this week reiterates that Arkansans appear ready for the medical use of marijuana to become public policy in Arkansas as the survey shows a comfortable lead (58% to 34%) for such a measure,” Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, said in the poll’s press release.

The poll found that support for medical cannabis legislation is particularly strong among Democrats (74 percent), African Americans (73 percent), Second Congressional District residents (65 percent) and those between the ages of 30 to 44 (73 percent). Attitudes toward medical marijuana legislation were split among Republican voters, however, as 45 percent responded in support and 45 percent in opposition.

“While these numbers would seem to bode well for medical marijuana advocates, the challenge is that there are two competing measures moving towards the fall ballot… both achieving the ballot would likely cause problems for the concept of medical marijuana because they would not only have to compete with one another… national groups interested in supporting medical marijuana in Arkansas might well be stymied by having to choose between the competing measures,” Dr. Barth added.

If both medical marijuana initiatives do qualify for the November ballot, the one that earns the most ‘yes’ votes would supersede the other.

“This is a democracy and there are way over 50 percent of the people in the state of Arkansas that support medical marijuana now,” said attorney David Couch, author of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, the initiative still collecting signatures. “People get it, I mean if you treat it as medicine and treat it as compassionate, Arkansas is not really a red state or a blue state, it’s a populous state and we do the right thing and we’ll vote for this, it will pass.”

The survey, crafted and conducted by Dr. Barth, was conducted using IVR survey technology and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percent.

Additional information about marijuana ballot initiatives scheduled for November can be found here or read our article detailing each of the three legalization efforts proposed in Arkansas.