By Therin Miller | August 9, 2022
The campaign to legalize adult-use cannabis in Arkansas sought the state Supreme Court on Thursday to place their measure on November ballots after the Board of Election Commissioners rejected the initiative's name and title, essentially banning it from ballots, according to the Associated Press.
Responsible Growth Arkansas had collected enough signatures to bring the matter before voters, but it still needed board approval.
The campaign claims in the complaint that the board took an "overly restrictive" approach that violated the state constitution. It challenges a 2019 legislation granting the board the authority to certify ballot proposals. According to the study, previous to the 2019 law, the state attorney general had to evaluate ballot initiatives before petitions could be circulated.
The commissioners rejected the ballot text because they did not believe the title adequately stated the proposed constitutional amendment, which claimed that the initiative would eliminate the state's current THC restriction on medicinal cannabis products.
Last week, Responsible Growth Arkansas attorney Steve Lancaster told the Associated Press that the board's decision was unjust because it would need the title to be "thousands and thousands of words long," which he claimed, "is not viable on a ballot."
The idea would enable Arkansans to possess up to an ounce of cannabis while boosting the number of cannabis farmers authorized under the state's medical cannabis system from eight to twenty and dispensaries from 40 to 120. The measure would also repeal the state's medical cannabis tax and impose the same amount on adult-use cannabis goods. A 6.5% sales tax and a 4% excise tax - as it does on medicinal cannabis. These revenues would go toward drug courts, medical research, and a "stipend" for police enforcement.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is term-limited and will not run for reelection, opposes the bill. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones supports it, but Republican nominee Sarah Sanders has not announced her view on the plan.