Election 2022: Guide to Marijuana Legalization in Arkansas

Amendment 98, Arkansas Legalization Amendment

Amendment 98, also known as the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, is a constitutional amendment that would expand Arkansas’ cannabis industry from medical to recreational use. Here’s the scoop on the initiative and what it would do.

Read the full proposed initiative here.

Is it legalization for medical or adult use?

If Amendment 98 is passed, possession and use of cannabis would be legal for all adults aged 21 and over.

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Election 2022: Guide to Marijuana Legalization in Missouri

What is the current law?

Medicinal cannabis is legal in Arkansas. However, adult cannabis is illegal. The state has not decriminalized cannabis, although Fayetteville, Little Rock and Eureka Springs have deprioritized enforcement of cannabis possession laws.

Voters passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, or Issue 6, n 2016. Lawmakers incorporated it into the Arkansas Constitution in 2017. The amendment created a comprehensive medical marijuana system in the state and expanded significant legal protections for patients, physicians and caregivers.

Under existing laws, medical marijuana patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days from state-licensed dispensaries, but they cannot grow marijuana themselves. The law also protects patients from prejudice in employment or tenancy relationships.

Related

Arkansas Marijuana Laws

Here is what Amendment 98 would do

The proposed change would legalize adult possession and consumption in Arkansas. It would also allow licensed operators to start selling cannabis with regulatory approval.

How do I vote in Arkansas?

Click here to register and find your nearest polling station or to request a postal vote.

Effective November 18, 2022, Amendment 98 would “authorize the possession, personal use and consumption of cannabis by adults and authorize the cultivation and sale of cannabis by licensed commercial establishments under the restrictions provided in this amendment.”

How much can I own?

If Amendment 98 is passed, adults could legally purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis.

When could I start growing my own?

Sorry, private home growing is not allowed under the terms of Amendment 98.

When would weed shops open?

It’s unclear when adult product sales would begin in Arkansas.

Regulators would have to license medical operators to expand into recreational sales, while also distributing up to 40 licenses to new businesses via a lottery system. According to the initiative, licensed stores will be allowed to start buying wholesale products from March 8, 2023.

Can I smoke a joint in public?

The new initiative does not extend to restrictions or allowances for public consumption. But under current law, Arkansas has clear guidelines for the consumption of medical cannabis in public. Act 740 states that eligible patients are not permitted to possess, smoke or use cannabis in the following locations:

  • Any form of public transport
  • college or university
  • Daycare, preschool, elementary school or high school
  • Drug or alcohol treatment facility
  • community or recreation center
  • correctional facility
  • In any public place
  • Anywhere where smoking is prohibited
  • In close physical proximity to anyone under the age of 14.

Neither the current law nor the new law does not provide for penalties for the offense of public use of cannabis.

Would Cannabis Stores Be Licensed?

The change would allow wholesale and commercial operations operated by state-licensed companies. Dispensaries would be limited to cultivating 100 seedlings, double the current medical limit.

Regulation would be carried out by the State’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Division (ABC) of the Department of Finance and Administration. These departments would oversee the issuance of licenses.

Any equity or small business licenses?

no There are no provisions to remedy the damage to people and communities caused by the failed war on drugs, including deletions, sealing of records, or opportunities for social justice licensing.

Can new businesses apply for a license?

Yes. In addition to the expansion licenses for current medical users, up to 40 new pharmacy licenses will be issued for adult use. There will also be opportunities for breeders, manufacturers and laboratory test technicians.

Individuals who own less than 5% of a given cannabis business would be exempt from background checks.

How many weed stores will be allowed?

A lottery system would license 40 new adult-use retailers in addition to the currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries licensed for expansion into the adult-use space.

There is no statewide cap on the total number of stores, but the change would remove the limit on the amount a person can own. 18 is the current cap, meaning a person cannot have financial interest in more than 18 separate cannabis businesses in Arkansas. If passed, the amendment would remove this limitation.

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When would microbusiness applications be available?

Effective March 8, 2023, the amendment would allow licensed medical or adult dispensaries to receive, transfer or sell marijuana and seeds to and from medical and adult grow facilities or other medical or adult dispensaries. This would lay the groundwork for a legal industry to begin later next year.

Could local cities or counties ban shops?

The change would allow municipalities to hold local opt-out elections that decide whether to ban retail sales, but they couldn’t override state law to ban possession or use in their jurisdictions.

Would medical marijuana patients be protected?

The voting measure would make small changes to the existing medical program, including removing residency requirements as a qualification to become a patient in the state.

Is Marijuana Taxed?

Arkansas would levy an additional 10% tax on sales of recreational cannabis in addition to the existing state and local sales tax.

Where Would the Marijuana Tax Revenue Go?

70% of cannabis tax revenue would go to the state’s general fund. The remaining revenue from cannabis sales would be split between law enforcement agencies (15%), state university research into the plant (10%) and nationwide drug court programs (5%).

What about the cancellation process?

There is no language regarding deletion or other forgiveness for residents with cannabis convictions by state or local authorities.

Responsible Growth Arkansas advocates collected over 190,000 signatures from supporters. Former Arkansas Democratic House Minority Leader Eddie Armstrong tabled the amendment in January.

Opponents of the legalization initiative

A legal challenge by an anti-marijuana advocacy group could ultimately render November’s votes useless.

Safe and Secure Communities is an anti-cannabis group that doesn’t want recreational cannabis on the ballot. They claim that the initiative does not clearly “disclose the repeal of the current THC restriction in the Arkansas Constitution.” SSC also flatly calls the citizens’ initiative “misleading, fraudulent and illegal”.

State officials urged the court not to deny the injunction. They said in a brief that it would be “manifestly unfair” to put the measure to a vote before the legal challenge is decided.

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