Arkansas Supreme Court allows residents to vote on recreational marijuana
September 23, 2022 at 15:14
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday said voters can decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana, overturning a state panel's decision to block the measure from the November ballot.
Justices granted a request by Responsible Growth Arkansas, the group behind the proposal, to certify the measure for the November ballot.
"The people will decide whether to approve the proposed amendment in November," Justice Robin Wynne wrote in the court's ruling.
WICHITA CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO DECRIMINALIZE POSSESSION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA, FENTANYL TEST KITSThe group behind the proposal appealed after the state Board of Election Commissioners blocked the initiative in August.
Supporters submitted more than enough valid signatures from registered voters to qualify, but the proposal still needed approval from the board to appear on the ballot.
"We’re extremely grateful to the Supreme Court that they agreed with us and felt like it was a complete validation of everything we’ve done," Steve Lancaster, an attorney for Responsible Growth Arkansas, said.
Arkansas voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.
The proposed amendment would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and would allow state-licensed dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana.
Justices rejected the board's arguments for denying the measure, but the court also struck down the 2019 law that empowered the board to certify ballot measures.
Recreational marijuana is already legal in 19 states, and legalization proposals are on the ballot this fall in South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri and Maryland.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled a proposal in that state will not appear on the ballot in November.
Responsible Growth Arkansas has raised more than $4 million in support of the Arkansas measure, primarily from medical marijuana businesses.