The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that voters will be able to legalize recreational marijuana come November elections. Thursday’s decision overturns an earlier ban from the Board of Election Commissioners.
“The people will decide whether to approve the proposed amendment in November,” wrote Justice Robin Wynne in the court’s ruling.
“We’re extremely grateful to the Supreme Court that they agreed with us and felt like it was a complete validation of everything we’ve done,” said Steve Lancaster, an attorney from Responsible Growth Arkansas, which had raised over $4 million in support of the measure. “We’re excited and moving on to November.”
In August, the State Board of Election Commissioners rejected the proposed amendment. Despite the fact that supporters of the measure submitted more than enough signatures for the issue to move on to the election ballot, it needed final approval from the board.
Commissioners claimed that the ballot’s title didn’t explain to voters the amendment’s true impact. One of the examples listed was the concern that the amendment would eliminate the state’s THC limit that was established when medical marijuana was approved.
“The type of detail that the board expected, or demanded in this case, would make our ballot title thousands and thousands of words long,” said Lancaster after the vote. “That just simply is not workable for a ballot.”
Conservative governors in the state supported the decision from the Board of Elections, with some of them voicing their approval and reaffirming their stance on marijuana. “Marijuana is a harmful drug,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Arkansas legalized medical marijuana in 2016. If the state were to approve recreational marijuana, adults 21 an older would be able to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. They would also be able to purchase recreational products from the state’s dispensaries.