Voters in Arkansas defeated a ballot question to legalize cannabis for adult use by a 56.2% to 43.8% margin with 92% of the vote counted, the New York Times reports. The measure would have legalized possession and use for adults 21 and older and allowed commercial sales.
The measure was opposed by several state politicians, including Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) and Republican U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman, the latter of which was reelected to a third term. Huckabee Sanders’ predecessor, Asa Hutchinson (R), had also said he planned to vote ‘no’ on the proposal.
Polls prior to Election Day had found support for the proposal shrinking. The measure faced headwinds even making it to ballots as the state Board of Election Commissioners had initially rejected the initiative’s ballot name and title and Secretary of State John Thurston deemed the measure insufficient due to the commissioners’ decision. However, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the campaign that led the effort and allowed the question to appear on ballots.
Medical cannabis is legal in Arkansas and this year’s sales totals are outpacing those of last year. So far in 2022, medical cannabis sales in Arkansas have totaled $205 million; sales reached $264.9 million in all of 2021.
Adult-use cannabis legalization was the only citizen-backed initiative on Arkansas ballots this year. There were three other questions put to voters that were added by lawmakers.
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