White County man files paperwork for constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana

Young leaf of marijuana plant detail at sunset.
Young leaf of marijuana plant detail at sunset.

A Griffithville man has filed paperwork for a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas.

If passed, the amendment would legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and older and require the state to issue licenses for dispensaries to sell the drug.

Cedric King submitted ballot language for the amendment to the Arkansas Attorney General's office Tuesday for review, a required step before he can begin the petition effort. The attorney general's office has until April 2 to issue a response.

King is listed as having a post office box in Griffithville, according to a spokesman for the attorney general's office. Griffithville is in White County.

To make the November ballot, the petition for the amendment will need 90,704 signatures turned into the secretary of state's office by July 5.

Under the amendment, Arkansas residents may purchase up to four ounces of smokable or vaporizable recreational marijuana a day and own or purchase 12 marijuana plants. Arkansans also will be allowed to purchase "any quantity" of cannabis seeds or "food or drink products produced from recreational marijuana."

For prospective marijuana businesses, the amendment would require the state to issue two classes of licenses. A Class A license "would permit the possession, cultivation, transport and sale of recreational marijuana plants and seeds." A Class B license "would permit the possession, cultivation, production, transport and sale of recreational marijuana plants, seeds, and permits the production and sale of produced from the plant," according to the amendment's ballot title.

For both kinds of licenses, "any adult resident residing in the State of Arkansas for (3) years or more shall qualify to obtain such a license." The maximum the state can charge for a Class A license is $250 and for a Class B license $500 a year.

The amendment calls for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to oversee the licenses for recreational marijuana.

The amendment stipulates a few prohibitions, namely requiring the sale of marijuana products to be at least 1,500 feet away from a school, church or daycare facility.

The proposal also would create an 8% excise tax and a 5% local sales tax on recreational marijuana.

The recreational amendment is not the first attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis in Arkansas after the voters rejected an amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2022. The 2022 amendment would have allowed for adults to purchase up to one ounce of recreational marijuana and allowed for 120 dispensaries to be licensed to sell the drug.

Last month, Attorney General Tim Griffin approved ballot wording for a proposed amendment to expand access to medical marijuana that, if passed, will allow nurse practitioners, physicians' assistants and pharmacists -- in addition to doctors -- to approve of patient cards and allow Arkansans to grow medical marijuana at home.

The proposed amendment also would legalize recreational marijuana, but only if the federal government ends its prohibition against the drug. If the federal marijuana prohibition ends, Arkansans will be able to own one ounce of marijuana while licensed cultivators and dispensaries would be able to legally sell cannabis for recreational use.

The popular name for the measure is the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2024, and it is backed by Arkansans for Patient Access, a ballot question committee financed by the medical marijuana industry.

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