Jul 11, 2022 - News

Recreational marijuana could be on Arkansas' November ballot

Illustration of a checkmark with a marijuana leaf on the end.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

You may be able to vote in November for or against allowing recreational marijuana in Arkansas.

What's happening: Responsible Growth Arkansas, a group focused on reforming drug-related laws, has gathered enough signatures from voters to get the issue on the ballot.

  • Kevin Niehaus, director of government affairs at the Arkansas secretary of state's office, confirmed to Axios on Friday that the group submitted its petition with 192,828 signatures.

Yes, but: The secretary of state's office estimates it will take about two weeks to certify the signatures and confirm that the issue will make it to the midterms, Niehaus told Axios.

Details: Responsible Growth Arkansas' proposed amendment would allow people ages 21 and up to buy marijuana for any reason and allow licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis products to people over 21.

Between the lines: No, you still wouldn't be able to privately grow or sell marijuana.

State of play: Medical marijuana is legal in Arkansas. Voters approved the change in 2016.

  • A total of 83,864 Arkansans have medical marijuana cards, Scott Hardin, spokesperson at the Department of Finance and Administration, told Axios. In May alone, medical marijuana patients spent $22.45 million on 3,917 pounds of pot.
  • Medical marijuana has a 10.5% tax rate, including the standard 6.5% sales tax plus a 4% tax that goes to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to establish a National Cancer Institute.

By the numbers: The proposed amendment got more than double the number of required signatures. Most initiatives in Arkansas require signatures from 10% of registered voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

  • Voters cast 891,509 ballots in the 2018 gubernatorial election, meaning only 89,151 signatures were required to get a recreational marijuana amendment on the ballot.

The big picture: While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, states are continuously loosening restrictions on the drug, moving to allow and regulate the sale and possession of the substance for medical and recreational purposes.

  • Recreational marijuana is legal in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is legal in another 17 states.
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