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Ballot Initiative Rejected by Arkansas Attorney General

Flickr @ Gage Skidmore

Earlier this year, there were three different initiatives hoping to legalize marijuana – in one form or another – in the state of Arkansas. However, only one managed to collect the needed number of signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot – a medical marijuana initiative run by a group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care. The other two – a grassroots campaign who hoped to legalize marijuana (though now they are opposing the Arkansans for Compassionate Care campaign) and an initiative that hoped to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis all at once.

The 2016 initiative introduced by Mary Berry of Summit, titled The Arkansas Cannabis Amendment, would have legalized cannabis use, possession, cultivation, distribution and sale – though they did not manage to get the needed number of signatures to reach this year’s ballot. The initiative was reintroduced in April to be approved for signature gathering early for the 2018 election and at first it was approved – but after further review and multiple changes to the language of the initiative it has been rejected by the state’s Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge.

“[The] current proposal has substantive differences (specifically, the addition of section 4) from the proposal that resulted in certification. As explained below, these additions have caused ambiguities that require rejection of the popular name and ballot title. Moreover, since I am required to reject the popular name and ballot title due to ambiguities in the underlying proposal’s new section.”

Some of the concerns in the new wording of the initiative include whether or not cannabis would be taxable, and whether or not licenses are required for cultivation and sale. Since this initiative aims to allow both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, there is also concern on whether or not parents would be legally allowed to give medical marijuana to minors. All of these things need answers – and without them the Attorney General has decided to reject the proposed constitutional amendment.

The good news for Mary Berry is that there is plenty of time to work on the wording of the initiative before they need to start seriously gathering signatures. However, if they had gotten approval now – or if they get approved soon at least, they will have plenty of time to gather the needed number of signatures to reach the ballot. Plus, if Arkansans for Compassionate Care see their initiated Act pass this November then questions regarding medical marijuana will already have a set answer and this initiative could put more focus into full legalization.