The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that cannabis legalization activists can collect petition signatures electronically as part of their campaign to put the question to voters in November, KATV reports. The ruling comes after state officials shut down the signature-gathering process for petitions in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, the group has to submit around 89,000 signatures by July 3. Arkansans for Cannabis Reform Executive Director Melissa Fults said the organization has collected about 23,000 so far, noting that they “had just gotten money to hire paid canvassers like two weeks before” the coronavirus pandemic shut down most of the country’s economy and led to stay-at-home orders.
In addition to the push to gather signatures electronically, the group is also planning a signature-gathering campaign though the mail.
“One thing we’re talking about is next week sending out a letter, we actually have a list of everyone that signed both of the marijuana initiatives in 2016, so what we’re going to try to do is send a letter with a self-addressed stamped envelope a legal-sized signature sheet to all of these people and ask them as soon as you get this, please sign it and return it.” – Fults to KATV
If approved, the measure would allow Arkansans over the age of 21 to purchase and possess cannabis and grow up to six matures and six immature plants in their home. It would also increase the number of dispensaries to 30 per congressional district, with at least one in each county. Dispensaries would be allowed to grow a minimum of 200 mature plants and 200 seedlings; currently, dispensaries are capped at a 50-plant limit.
After the program is paid for, 60 percent of cannabis-derived tax proceeds would be used to fund pre-K and after school programs, while the other 40 percent would be sent to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for their budget.
In April, Montana activists sued the state in a push for electronic petition signature collection, but that effort was shot down by a Missoula District judge who said the group failed to show that its constitutional rights were infringed and that election integrity outweighs extant law’s burden on those rights, according to a Montana Free Press report.
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