A group in Arkansas will take an early but meaningful step this week toward ultimately making recreational marijuana use legal in the state.
The Drug Policy Education Group, a nonprofit based in Arkansas, said it plans to file a pair of ballot petitions with the secretary of state on Wednesday with the intention of getting two proposals on the ballot next year.
One proposal, called the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, or AAUCA, would give authority to a state agency, the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, to issue licenses to would-be dispensaries and to establish a set of rules pertaining to the number of licenses awarded and limits on cannabis cultivation.
Under the amendment, dispensaries would be permitted to sell marijuana to those over the age of 21 beginning in December of 2020.
The other proposal, known as the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment, or AMEA, would be aimed at rectifying previous pot convictions by permitting those who were busted for paraphernalia or possession of fewer than 16 ounces to petition a court for release from prison or expungement of the conviction.
Melissa Fults, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Education Group, told local ABC affiliate KATV that “[o]ther states have seen better, safer outcomes by removing the black-market elements created by the illegal sale of cannabis.”
“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,” Fults told the station.