Arkansas Cannabis Legalization Campaign Files Lawsuit Following Ballot Language Rejection

The campaign for legalizing cannabis in Arkansas filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court last week after the Board of Election Commissioners rejected the initiative’s name and title, effectively blocking it from ballots.

Full story after the jump.

The campaign seeking to legalize cannabis for adult use in Arkansas on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to put their measure on November ballots after the Board of Election Commissioners rejected the initiative’s name and title, effectively blocking it from ballots, the Associated Press reports. Responsible Growth Arkansas had gathered enough signatures to put the question to voters but the proposal also needed approval from the board. 

 In the lawsuit, the campaign argues that the board used an “overly stringent” approach that violates the state constitution and challenges a 2019 law that gives the board the power to certify ballot initiatives. Prior to the 2019 law, ballot measures had to be reviewed by the state attorney general prior to the circulation of petitions, the report says.

In rejecting the ballot language, the commissioners said they didn’t think the title fully explained the proposed constitutional amendment, claiming that the measure would repeal the state’s current THC limit on medical cannabis products. 

Responsible Growth Arkansas attorney Steve Lancaster told the AP last week that the board’s decision was unfair because it would require the title to go into too much detail, requiring the title to be “thousands and thousands of words long” which he said “is not workable for a ballot.”

The plan would allow Arkansans to possess up to an ounce of cannabis while increasing the number of cannabis cultivators from the eight currently allowed under the state’s medical cannabis system to 20, and the number of dispensaries from 40 to 120. There are no home grows allowed under the proposal, which would also eliminate the state’s medical cannabis tax and levy the same amount – a 6.5% sales tax and a 4% excise tax – on adult-use cannabis products. Those funds would be used for drug courts, health care research, and a “stipend” for law enforcement. 

The measure is opposed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is term-limited and not seeking reelection. It is supported by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones, while Republican nominee Sarah Sanders has not stated her position on the proposal. 

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