LITTLE ROCK — A growing percentage of Arkansas voters oppose legalizing marijuana for medical use in the state, results of a new poll show.
In the Talk Business-Hendrix College poll, 54 percent of Arkansas voters said they opposed Issue 5, the proposed Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act that appears on the November general election ballot. Thirty-eight percent said they supported the measure and 8 percent were undecided.
In July, 47 percent of respondents to a survey on the same question said they supported the measure and 46 percent said they were against it.
In the latest poll, Talk Business-Hendrix College surveyed 868 likely Arkansas voters by phone on Thursday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The pollsters said the poll numbers were fluid and that a major paid media campaign recently started by the measure’s supports could cause a shift.
Still, Jerry Cox, a vocal critic of the measure, said the poll numbers show people "realize the claim about medicine is nothing more than a smoke screen," noting that the sponsoring group, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, got nearly $250,000 of the $282,000 in contributions it has received from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C-based group that advocates legalizing marijuana.
"We can’t compete with them dollar-for-dollar, so we’re going to continue to rely on everyday Arkansans to take our message out at the local level. So far that strategy seems to be paying off," said Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee, one of several groups in a Christian conservative coalition opposing the measure.
The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association, Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arkansas Pharmacy Association also have announced opposition to the proposal.
Chris Kell, spokesman for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said he had not seen the poll but had received positive response to the measure in his travels around the state.
"As I travel across the state, I have found absolutely no opposition to it," Kell said. "Statewide, support has been huge. I just got through voting. They were all talking about it and I heard absolutely no opposition."
He said the group’s media campaign would "get our message out to the masses" in the final days of the election season.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election began Monday.