Former Arkansas law maker, political activist and longtime marijuana legalization advocate David Couch has announced his candidacy for Governor of Colorado. The announcement comes amid a highly divisive gubernatorial race in which incumbent Jared Polis is facing stiff competition from challenger Walker Stapleton who supports the state’s current cannabis laws. Repealing those rules would likely require voter approval through an amendment referendum in November 2020.
The “decriminalized vs legal” is a debate that has been going on for quite some time. Former Arkansas lawmaker launches cannabis legalization campaign.
Another effort to legalize cannabis in Arkansas is now underway. Advocates expect that this will put a stop to the state’s prohibition laws.
A group led by a former Arkansas senator has entered the fight to overhaul the state’s cannabis laws by forming a campaign to support a constitutional amendment that would allow recreational marijuana. In a filing with the Arkansas Ethics Commission on October 15, Eddie Armstrong, a former Democratic state legislator from North Little Rock, is identified as the head of the nonprofit Responsible Growth Arkansas.
As of the start of the week, the proposed constitutional amendment’s wording had not been submitted with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. According to media sources, the group’s statement of organization states that it would “fight for the adoption of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to legalize the controlled sale of adult-use cannabis in the state.”
More specifics on the proposed constitutional amendment to allow recreational cannabis will be provided in the coming weeks, Armstrong stated in an email to media.
Armstrong was a member of the Arkansas State House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019, when he served as minority leader. According to a 2019 story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he is also the creator of Cannabis Capital Corp., a Chicago-based consulting business that serves the medical marijuana market.
In 2016, medical marijuana became legal.
Issue 6, a constitutional amendment ballot proposition that gained 53 percent of the vote, legalizing medicinal marijuana in Arkansas in 2016. Patients may get a doctor’s recommendation to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for the treatment of one or more qualifying medical conditions under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.
Patients were first served by medical marijuana shops in 2019. According to Melissa Fults, a medical marijuana advocate, regulatory restrictions on the number of cannabis farmers and merchants might soon leave patients with an insufficient supply of medication.
“There can only be a maximum of 40 dispensaries, which is insufficient to service the whole state of Arkansas,” Fults added. “They kept saying it was only going to 30,000 people,” she said. “We’re on our way to 80,000.”
Cannabis Legalization Amendment Proposed Separately
Growth That Is Responsible Arkansas is not the only state where a push to legalize adult-use marijuana is underway. The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022, a different ballot issue from Arkansas True Grass, would legalize cannabis for people 21 and older, including permission to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home. The bill would also exclude nonviolent marijuana offenders from jail, probation, and parole, as well as remove previous marijuana offenses from their records.
A regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of recreational marijuana would also be established under the proposed constitutional change. In addition to the state sales tax, adult-use cannabis sales would be subject to an 8% marijuana excise tax. Local governments would also be able to impose a 5% tax on recreational marijuana sales.
“The medical care in Arkansas is excellent, but it is too costly for people. “We’d want to see that change, with patients being able to cultivate their own,” Raphael said earlier this month to local media.
Under state law, backers of any cannabis legalization proposition must gather at least 89,151 signatures of registered voters, which is equivalent to 10% of the votes cast for governor in the 2018 general election. Canvassers collecting signatures for proposed ballot initiatives must be Arkansas citizens and cannot be paid on a per-signature basis, according to legislation enacted into law this year. The signature collection deadline is July 8, 2022.