Next year, Arkansas could make history and become the first southern state to end marijuana prohibition and wipe the slate clean for people with criminal records for marijuana convictions.
The Marijuana Policy Project has endorsed two constitutional ballot initiatives being spearheaded by Arkansans for Cannabis Reform. The first would establish a system to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. The second would create a pathway for individuals to remove previous marijuana offenses from their criminal records, making it easier for them to get jobs and access social benefits.
Each petition requires just over 89,000 voter signatures, and the campaign has established signing locations all over the state. Now is a critical time, and they are looking for supporters to get involved and expand their effort.
A victory in Arkansas would send a shockwave through the country. A clear majority of voters stand with us in our mission to end marijuana prohibition. But it takes hard-working teams like Arkansans for Cannabis Reform to give voters an opportunity to enact the change they want.
Little Rock City Board Member Ken Richardson is proposing to make marijuana arrests the lowest possible police priority. This measure — which would effectively reduce marijuana possession to a citation — will save court and law enforcement resources while not needlessly punishing adults with jail time.
While attitudes on marijuana policy are changing all over the country, we can't rest now. In fact, Little Rock voted down a similar ordinance last year!
To find your Ward Director, please click here. Be sure to reach out to them before the meeting and let them know you support this proposed ordinance. (If Richardson is your board member, you can thank him for his leadership.)
Here are a couple of points you can make in support:
* Please support Board Member Richardson's proposal to cite, not jail, people for marijuana possession. Incarceration is a traumatic, disproportionate penalty for possessing marijuana.
* This measure would allow law enforcement to spend more time on crimes with victims, instead of wasting their time booking individuals for using a substance most Americans think should be legal.
You can also show up in person to demonstrate your support for this important measure:
What: Little Rock Board of Directors meeting
When: Tuesday, August 20 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Little Rock City Hall, 500 West Markham Street, Board of Directors' Chambers, 2nd floor
The city will vote on this next week and needs to hear from constituents beforehand. Reach out to your city board member today. If you or anyone you know is a resident of Little Rock, please let them know about the meeting and forward this email to them.
Although medical marijuana is not yet available for Arkansas patients, patient ID cards went into effect on February 15, 2019. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission began mailing out ID cards to qualifying patients, and over 7,000 patient ID cards have been approved.
Patients who have a qualifying medical condition and a physician's written certification can apply online.
Recently, the Medical Marijuana Commission awarded licenses to 32 retail medical marijuana dispensaries and five medical marijuana cultivators. Cultivators are expected to have product available for dispensaries by April. Hopefully, Arkansas patients will not have to wait much longer for relief approved by voters over two years ago.
Despite the progress achieved so far for patients, Arkansas still has some of harshest marijuana laws in the country. Possessing marijuana should not be punishable by jail time, and other states – including Mississippi, North Carolina, and Missouri – have decriminalized marijuana. Ask your legislators to impose a civil fine on marijuana possession. Together, we can bring marijuana policy reform to Arkansas.
Patients and caregivers can begin enrolling in Arkansas’ medical marijuana program now, although cards will not be available for some time.
If you are a qualifying patient, you can go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and enroll online, or you can mail in your application. Patients must submit a written certification form filled out by a physician, a photocopy of their Arkansas state-issued ID, and a nonrefundable $50 application fee. Caregivers must also undergo a $34 criminal history check. Note that due to an amendment to the program by the Legislature, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not permitted to enroll in the program as either patients or caregivers.
While patients can apply for program enrollment now, their ID cards will not be issued until 30 days before medical cannabis actually becomes available from dispensaries for purchase. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission estimates that dispensaries should be open by the end of the year or early 2018. You can learn more about the dispensary application process here.