Adult-use cannabis legalization initiatives in Arkansas will refocus efforts on 2020 ballot

Bethan Rose Jenkins , Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A revitalized campaign initiative to legalize cannabis in Arkansas could see voters take action during the 2020 ballot. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the process of collecting signatures was recently put on hold. 

Thankfully for cannabis lobbyists in Arkansas, a court ruling that took place on May 25 saw petitioners get the green light to continue gathering signatures; with minimal social contact. Now that signatures can be collected remotely, campaign organizers have decided to push for a 2020 ballot vote on cannabis legalization in Arkansas.

“We’re going to keep trying for it, and if we fail, we have 2022 as a backup,” campaign organizer for Arkansas True Grass, Briana Boling, told reporters.

Arkansas True Grass: The push for cannabis legalization in Arkansas continues

In July 2019, this pro-cannabis group submitted ‘The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2020’ to the Secretary of State. However, last month, Arkansas True Grass announced that it would be putting things on the back-burner until the COVID-19 situation clears up. According to group organizers, submission for the 2020 ballot initiative would have been postponed until the 2022 ballot.

Fortunately, Arkansas True Grass – which is one of two support groups trying to gather signatures in the state – will now be able to continue gathering signatures for its proposed constitutional amendments to legalize adult-use cannabis statewide. Remote signature collection will enable pro-cannabis groups like this to continue gathering public support for a legal weed initiative to feature on the 2020 ballot.

Although opportunity remains for Arkansas True Grass, the group has a tight deadline for signatures — almost 90,000 must be collected by July 3. Failure to meet the deadline means that the group will have to wait until the next legislative ballot in 2022. You can click here to view instructions, download and print the petition on Legal Size Paper (8.5X14). The form should be filled out in Landscape Mode with black ink.

Arkansans for Cannabis Reform: A competing signature-gathering effort to legalize cannabis in Arkansas

Another group hoping to see their Arkansas cannabis legalization campaign initiative featured on the 2020 ballot is Arkansans for Cannabis Reform. This group comprises a number of legalization activists who, collectively, must gather and submit 89,000 signatures by the July 3 deadline. Going head-to-head with Arkansas True Grass, the group wants to get a similar initiative put before voters in November.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, people who are in favor of the ideas presented by Arkansans for Cannabis Reform can still provide their signature without disobeying COVID-19 social distancing rules.

“People can go to our website, they can download the special signature page and then they can sign the petition and then they can mail it to us,” said the Executive Director, Melissa Fults, who revealed that the current signature count rests at approximately 23,000+.

Included in her team’s initiative is a rule that would enable the adult residents of Arkansas – aged 21 and older – to legally purchase weed. In addition to granting more people access to the plant, Arkansans for Cannabis Reform also wants to provide consumers with increased purchasing options by allowing a maximum of 30 dispensaries per congressional district. Those dispensary owners could cultivate a minimum of 200 mature plants and 200 seedlings; the existing cap on dispensary-grown plants is 50.