Two cannabis-related ballot petitions are set to be filed in Arkansas for 2020 election season.
According to CBS affiliate KARK, a local group in Arkansas, the Drug Policy Education Group, will soon file two different petitions. One proposes to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use, and the other would expunge past cannabis convictions.
The first petition, known as the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment (AAUCA), would license and regulate cannabis similarly to alcohol. If passed, licensed medical dispensaries would be able to sell recreational cannabis starting in December of 2020. The second, called the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment [AMEA], would allow those who are found to be in possession of 16 or fewer ounces of cannabis to have their previous charges expunged.
“Other states have seen better, safer outcomes by removing the black market elements created by the illegal sale of cannabis,” said Melissa Fults, executive director of the Drug Policy Education Group. “The truth is that cannabis is safer than alcohol, while prohibition is ineffective and racially biased. It has done far more harm in our community than cannabis
In addition to supporting cannabis now, Fults was also the campaign manager of the 2012 and 2016 efforts to establish medical cannabis in the state. The group behind these new petitions is claiming that a major reason for legalization is economic stimulus. Even offering only medical cannabis in a very limited capacity, sales have already surpassed $2.2 million.
While officials are a little late to the game, Arkansas has been making a lot of strides towards legal cannabis lately. Medical cannabis was just made available for sale earlier this year, but already the state is looking to push forward. State leaders have also introduced a hemp program. Either of these new petitions passing would be a big deal for the state.