Voters in Arkansas are once again turning to the ballot for action on marijuana
Voters in Arkansas may have the opportunity to approve the recreational use and sales of marijuana for adult use in the upcoming midterm election. Responsible Growth Arkansas, an advocacy group focused on reforming outdated drug-related laws, announced that they have collected more than enough signatures for the issue to appear on the ballot. Director of government affairs at the Arkansas secretary of state's office Kevin Niehaus confirmed that the group collect 192,828 signatures.
The secretary of state’s office estimates that it will take more than two weeks to verify the signatures, but Responsible Growth Arkansas collected more than twice the number of needed signatures to ensure that they have enough verifiable voters to make it on the ballot this November.
The group’s proposed amendment would allow people 21 and older to legally purchase and use marijuana, and permit licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis products to eligible consumers. The amendment does not legalize the private growth and sales of marijuana but limits the industry strictly to commercially licensed retailers. Arkansas is amongst a number of states where voters are taking matters into their own hands due to an inactive legislature.
Voters led the charge for the state’s medical marijuana program in 2016, which now boasts 83,864 registered cardholders. The industry sold 3,917 pounds of pot for a total of $22.45 million in the month of May alone. The current tax rate on medical cannabis is 10.5%, which includes the standard 6.5% sales tax and an additional 4% tax directed to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to establish their National Cancer Institute.
Glancing at the numbers and data alone, it appears that the people of Arkansas are ready to legalize recreational marijuana. The taxes generated from medical cannabis in one month alone is enough to incentivize any state to consider new avenues of revenue.