Arkansas’ Prohibitionists Supremely Defeated

Arkansas Supreme Court Building

By: Cecil King   

Arkansas’ Prohibitionists Supremely Defeated   

Missouri’s next door neighbor Arkansas will have at least one, maybe two, activist initiatives for legalizing cannabis for medical use on the ballot this November.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, Arkansas citizens will have the right to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment (Initiative 6) to allow sales of medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries.

A coalition of prohibitionist groups led the legal attack on the amendment claiming the language would mislead voters. Jerry Cox of the of the Family Council Action Committee and other prohibitionist groups were grasping at straws to legally stop this amendment. At the end, Judges were simply not impressed by their lame arguments.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on the following claims about the amendment:

  1. It doesn’t notify voters that the amendment will allow marijuana dispensaries to sell food and drink containing marijuana.
  2. It doesn’t show the amendment’s effect on employers, landlords, churches and schools.
  3. It doesn’t inform voters that doctors, lawyers and professionals can’t be denied a license to practice for using medical marijuana.

The court declined to interpret the content of the amendment, which is not within its purview. Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson explained in the court’s statement the language of the measure does not have to cover every detail of the amendment.

A much relieved David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who is the executive director of Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana who sponsored the Amendment said, “the last obstacle has been cleared and now we know that people will be able to vote on Issue 6, we’ll immediately start our media campaign.”

Couch will start a massive advertising campaign of targeted TV and radio ads across the state. A recent poll by Talk Business & Politics, Hendrix College and Impact Management Group found support for physician-prescribed medical marijuana in Arkansas is running at 84% approval.

Missouri activists, still stinging from a lost legal battle with the Missouri Attorney General where their constitutional initiative was defeated in court, are encouraged by the legal win for Arkansas’ activists. Arkansas’ second initiative (Initiative 7) will face its Supreme Court hearing on October 18, 2016.

New Approach Missouri (NAM) activists are planning to re-file their constitutional amendment to legalize Medical Marijuana in Missouri as soon as one day after the November 8, 2016 election.

Just like Arkansas, which racked up a defeat in 2012 with a recreational initiative, NAM is coming back from their defeat for a 2018 win. New Approach Missouri’s new constitutional amendment will be filed with essentially the same language as in 2016. Missouri cannabis activists will “have plenty of time to gather the needed signatures and raise even more money for 2018” offers a volunteer with NAM.

Volunteers who worked on Missouri’s failed medical cannabis legalization effort said “our donors and volunteers were shocked at the court’s ruling.” The Attorney General and the Judge “threw out perfectly valid voter signatures.” Now they’re more determined to bring medical cannabis to Missouri.

Activists said many voters didn’t know exactly in which district they reside, and others got easily confused trying to remember the city or county where they vote since voting districts have changed.

But, the court ruled these citizens’ petition mistakes negate their constitutional right to vote on the constitutional amendment. The next chance for medical cannabis legalization in Missouri will be in 2018.