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Arkansas Supreme Court Says Marijuana Legalization Goes On Ballot

Marijuana legalization will be on the ballot, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled. But will those votes will be counted?

Green State

A measure to legalize adult-use marijuana in Arkansas will be on the November ballot, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. But we don’t yet know if those votes will actually be counted. That is still up in the air, reports 5 News Online.

On Aug. 4, the state Board of Election Commissioners denied certification to include recreational marijuana on the ballot, saying the proposal didn’t have sufficient background checks for dispensary owners or THC limits.

The order directs Secretary of State John Thurston to “conditionally certify petitioners’ proposed initiated amendment pending this court’s decision in this case,” reports Cannabis Business Times. Voters will certainly have the opportunity to cast ballots on the amendment in November’s election. But the Arkansas Supreme Court still has the authority to determine whether those votes on legalization will count. 

The preliminary action “was exactly what we asked for, and we were very pleased by the court’s rulings,” a Responsible Growth Arkansas spokesperson said Thursday.

RGA submitted more than 192,000 signatures in early July for the proposal. That far exceeded the 89,151 signatures needed to qualify for November’s ballot.

Legalization Remains On The Ballot… Conditionally

Responsible Growth Arkansas (RGA), the group that gathered the signatures, filed a lawsuit alleging that the board made an “incorrect” denial. RGA said the denial rejects “hundreds of thousands of Arkansans to have the opportunity to vote on the Amendment.” 

The Arkansas Supreme Court issued an order on Aug. 10 allowing the measure to remain on the ballot conditionally. That’s to buy time while Supreme Court justices decide whether the state board’s initial denial was valid.

As of now, adult-use marijuana will be on the November election ballot in Arkansas. But the Supreme Court will still decide by the deadline.

Legalization Will Be On November’s Ballot In Arkansas

The Arkansas Elections Board rejected the measure on the grounds that the ballot title was not clear enough in terms of the impact of the amendment. Board members cited the level of THC allowed in edible marijuana products as the main problem, reports Benzinga. As such, the commissioners ruled that the wording in the legalization ballot was misleading on that score. 

In any case, this Supreme Court decision, as reported by Marijuana Moment, means Arkansas voters will indeed see legalization on their ballots this November. However, the court could ultimately support Arkansas state officials on the merits of the certification challenge certification. The votes will not be counted in that scenario.

The Arkansas secretary of state needs to file a response to the petitioners’ original complaint by August 16. Then, petitioners have until August 23 to file a response, with a subsequent respondents’ brief due by August 30. The petitioner’s reply to that requires completion by September 2.

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