LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a petition to reconsider its decision to dismiss a suit challenging a ballot item that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Also Tuesday, a special master appointed to review the signatures supporters submitted to the secretary of state’s office in support of the measure said enough of the signatures were valid for the measure to qualify for the ballot.
In a one-page order, the state’s top court denied, without comment, a petition for rehearing filed by the group Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana.
The group had asked the court to reconsider its Sept. 22 ruling rejecting the group’s suit alleging that Issue 7, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state through an initiated act, should be stricken from the ballot because its ballot title is misleading and does not adequately explain the measure to voters.
Little Rock lawyer Kara Benca has filed a separate suit alleging numerous problems with the signatures that supporters submitted to the secretary of state’s office to get the measure on the ballot.
On Tuesday, retired judge John Robbins, who has been appointed by the Supreme Court as a special master in Benca’s suit, submitted a report to the court stating that of the 77,516 signatures validated by the secretary of state’s office, he found that 2,087 should be deemed invalid because canvassers who collected them reported their businesses addresses and not their home addresses, as required by Act 1413 of 2013.
If those signatures were disqualified, that would leave 75,429 valid signatures, well over the 67,887 needed to place a proposed initiated act on the ballot.
Robbins also noted that in March 2014, a Pulaski County judge ruled that portions of Act 1413 were unconstitutional, and that in March 2015 the Supreme Court reversed the judge’s ruling with respect to the sections of Act 1413 that pertain to Benca’s suit. Robbins said the Supreme Court could rule that portions of Act 1413 do not apply because of that case, and that if so, then all 77,516 signatures that the secretary of state’s office validated should be considered valid.
Another measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, Issue 6, would legalize medical marijuana through a constitutional amendment. Arkansans Against Legalized Medical Marijuana also has filed a suit with the state Supreme Court challenging that proposal.