On November 6, 2016, slightly more than half of Arkansas voters approved Amendment 9. Known as The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, the law legalized medical marijuana for people who meet specific conditions as set forth by the law. And although there is a reasonably liberal interpretation of the conditions, such as PTSD, “severe and persistent muscle spasms,” and fibromyalgia, which makes getting a medical marijuana license relatively easy, there is nonetheless a push for full recreational marijuana usage.
Recreational Marijuana: The Context
Context is important, because if an Arkansas resident does not have, or is unable to attain a medical marijuana license, the penalties for possession and use are steep. According to marijunainc, a company that believes in a “future where hemp is a staple in diets, and cannabinoids are the source of medicines that are used to conquer some of the most debilitating diseases in the world,” the possession, use, cultivation, and transportation of less than 4 ounces of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail and $2500 in fines, with violations of 4 ounces or more being a felony resulting in 6 to 30 years of imprisonment, and fines ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.
With this context in mind, Arkansas True Grass, a grass roots movement whose aim is to fully legalize cannabis in Arkansas, is sponsoring a recreational marijuana amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. If passed into law, this amendment will “legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational purposes” and will “set the captives (of marijuana violations) free and clear of all nonviolent marijuana offenses.” Let’s take a moment to unpack this proposal.
The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment Of 2022: Licenses
Known as The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment Of 2022, the ballot is composed of several major pieces. The first piece addresses the possession and use of marijuana. Specifically, the amendment proposes the creation of two recreational marijuana licenses: a Class A License would permit the possession, cultivation, transportation, and sale of recreational marijuana plants; a Class B License is a bit broader and would also permit the sale of products made from marijuana plants.
It also stipulates that Arkansas residents 21 years of age and older may “purchase up to 4 ounces of smokable or vaporizable recreational marijuana a day, but may possess out of public view an unlimited quantity of products from the plant.” This specification of an “unlimited quantity” is likely to stir up controversy and opposition in such a conservative state as Arkansas.
Nonresidents would also benefit from passage of this ballot as it allows adults 21 years and older to purchase up to one ounce of smokable or vaporizable marijuana a day and up to 72 ounces of marijuana in the form of food or drink a day.
The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment Of 2022: Justice for Marijuana Offenders
The second part of the amendment focuses on those who are serving jail or prison sentences related to convictions for violations of the Arkansas Uniform Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to marijuana. The law calls for a person whose “current and only conviction was for a marijuana related offense” to “be released and all criminal records shall be expunged of such convictions that occurred prior to the amendment’s effective date of November 9th, 2022.”
The amendment extends these graces to any person serving probation or parole for violating the Arkansas Uniform Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to marijuana. However, it ironically does not allow for people to legally drive under the influence of marijuana.
The amendment does factor in protections for schools, churches and daycare facilities, specifying that marijuana products cannot be produced within 1500 feet of such establishments. The amendment also prohibits the creation of marijuana food products that target children and requires appropriate labeling of the THC composition of marijuana products. It also builds in safeguards for employers, allowing them to use discretion about hiring and firing policies related to marijuana usage by employees or applicants for posted positions. These same safeguards are also extended to landlords.
The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment Of 2022: A Call for Help
According to Briana Boling, a central representative of Arkansas True Grass, the ballot needs 89,151 registered voter signatures by July 2022 in order to be voted upon by the general public as a ballot measure. Arkansas True Grass is strictly a volunteer-based organization and as such lacks any specific political connections or clout. Therefore, they are actively seeking volunteers, especially in the area of canvassing.
They are of course always seeking funding streams to help them get the word out about their initiative. To volunteer, sign up at https://www.artruegrass.org/volunteer. To make a donation, go to https://www.artruegrass.org/ and click on the Donation button. To view and download the amendment, visit https://www.artruegrass.org/mission. If you want to speak with someone personally (or send a text message), they may be reached at 501-420-4408.