LITTLE ROCK — A proposed initiated act to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas has qualified to appear on the November ballot, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday.

LITTLE ROCK — A proposed initiated act to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas has qualified to appear on the November ballot, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday.


The sponsor of a rival measure on medical marijuana said he planned to deliver signatures Friday, which is the deadline to submit signatures in support of citizen-driven ballot proposals. The sponsors of proposal on civil damages said signatures for that measure also would be submitted Friday, while the backers of a proposal on term limits said they fell short of their signature requirement.


Of the 117,547 signatures submitted last month in support of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office said Thursday it has verified that at least 77,516 are valid signatures of registered Arkansas voters, well above the required minimum of 67,887 for a proposed initiated act.


If approved by voters, the measure sponsored Arkansans for Compassionate Care would allow patients with certain debilitating or life-threatening medical conditions to obtain medical cannabis from a state-regulated dispensary with a doctor’s recommendation. People who live more than 20 miles away from a dispensary and have a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis would be allowed to grow a small amount a home for their personal use.


A similar proposal sponsored by the same group made the ballot in 2012 and failed by a margin of 48 percent in favor to 52 percent against.


Little Rock lawyer David Couch said Thursday that more than 100,000 signatures have been collected in support of his rival proposal to legalize medical marijuana and said he would submit them Friday. Couch’s measure, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, is a proposed constitutional amendment and needs 84,859 signatures to get on the ballot.


Arkansans for Compassionate Care on Thursday repeated its plea to Couch to drop his proposal so there will not be two competing measures on the issue on the ballot.


"Please do not place thousands of sick and dying Arkansans’ future in jeopardy," Melissa Fults, the group’s campaign director, said in a statement. "Patients need safe and legal access to cannabis and if you continue we risk losing the best chance that we’ve ever had. Placing two initiatives on the ballot will cause both to fail."


Couch said polling shows Arkansans are more likely to support legalizing medical cannabis if home cultivation is not allowed. His proposal would not allow growing the plant at home.


"I want to make sure we’re able to get medicine to people that need it. I sympathize with the reasoning behind theirs, but I don’t think the people of Arkansas support it," he said.


Jerry Cox, executive director of the Family Council Action Committee, said in a statement Thursday the proposal by Arkansans for Compassionate Care is "written so broadly that virtually any healthy adult with pain or nausea will be able to finagle a way to use marijuana."


"There won’t be any prescriptions from a doctor — just a note. No pharmacies will dispense it, and no one will regulate the content or dosage. It will force the Arkansas Department of Health to spend millions of tax dollars on the state’s marijuana program," he said.


Cox said the committee will examine the petitions submitted in support of the measure and will sue if it finds evidence of legal violations. He also said the committee may challenge the title and wording of the ballot measure, which it believes are misleading.


A third marijuana-related proposal, sponsored by Robert Reed of Dennard, would remove all prohibitions in state law on the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of the cannabis plant and products derived from it. Reed said Thursday he was not sure how many signatures he would have by Friday, but he said a count Wednesday showed he was "several thousand short."


Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to direct the state Legislature to set a cap no smaller than $250,000 on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits said they would submit signatures Friday.


Restore Term Limits, a group that sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to shorten term limits for state legislators, said Thursday it did not collect enough signatures to make the ballot.