Monday, September 25, 2023

Why Arkansas Governor Opposes Legalizing Weed

“It’s going to take a lot of education in order to change that climate and to be able to show voters that this would be, in fact, harmful,” said Asa Hutchinson

By Nina Zdinjak

Governor Asa Hutchinson is encouraging law enforcement to “stand firm” against cannabis legalization, after the proposed measure to legalize adult-use cannabis was blocked from appearing on the state’s ballot in November. Here is why the Arkansas Governor opposes legalizing weed.

“And the reason I oppose it is simply this: that it will increase the usage of marijuana,” Hutchinson said at the Arkansas Municipal Police Association Convention.”I believe that marijuana is a harmful drug. It is as simple as that. I look back to Alaska. In the 70s, they decriminalized marijuana. Marijuana use went up dramatically, particularly among their teens, and Alaska reversed courses and re-criminalized marijuana.”

Several hours before the initiative was dismissed, Hutchinson urged law enforcement officials to get ready for the debate on marijuana legalization, believing it might end up on the November election ballot, reported The Sentinel-Record.

“Now, they’re going to sell this as something that’s going to help law enforcement. Fifteen percent of the revenue from the taxes on the sales of marijuana will go to a fund to support law enforcement stipends, 10% of it will go to UAMS in Little Rock, and 5% will go to drug courts,” the governor said.

RELATED: Arkansas Cannabis Legalization Ballot Struck Down Despite Securing More Than Enough Signatures — Here’s Why

“And so, once again, they’re selling a harmful drug to the citizens of Arkansas based upon promises that look good. Now, those promises might be a reality, but I think you’ve got to be prepared for this debate.”

marijuana joint
Photo by PhotoAlto/Katarina Sundelin/Getty Images

The governor noted that the polls are close, with only 54% of voters backing the initiative.

“It’s going to take a lot of education in order to change that climate and to be able to show voters that this would be, in fact, harmful,” he said.

Why Was The Initiative Rejected? 

The State Board of Election Commissioners dismissed the ballot title, and popular name of the proposition, even though it received enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The commissioner said the initiative was rejected because the ballot title was not precise enough, citing THC levels allowed in cannabis edibles.

RELATED: Medical Cannabis Businesses In Arkansas Sued For Inflating THC Levels

“If I’m a voter, I might be all for this, but I’d like to safeguard that edible limit,” Commissioner J. Harmon Smith said.

Steve Lancaster, attorney for Responsible Growth Arkansas, said they plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“The type of detail that the board expected, or demanded in this case, would make our ballot title thousands and thousands of words long,” Lancaster told reporters following the vote. “That just simply is not workable for a ballot.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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