A recent amendment to a proposal that would have allowed complete cannabis legalization, including distribution and sale, has been rejected by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The proposed constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot would allow residents to legally cultivate, produce, distribute, sell, possess, and use – according to a local news agency.
The proposal mentions that only those who are 21 years or older would be permitted to cultivate and produce limited amounts of marijuana and they would be able to cultivate up to 36 plants, provided they were obstructed from public view.
This would be in stark contrast to current state laws as they are well known for being some of the strictest in the nation. As of now, possessing four ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor resulting in up to one year in jail. Possessing an ounce or more by those who have already been convicted of a marijuana crime is a felony that can result in up to six years in prison, as well as a number of steep fines.
In 2016, Rutledge certified a marijuana proposal amendment, one that would work with both the legalization of recreational marijuana and the usage of medicinal marijuana for seriously ill patients who had certification from their doctor. Those who qualified would be able to obtain the marijuana from nonprofit centers as well as cultivate a maximum of 10 pants.
A relevant section of the bill:
“The cultivation, production, distribution, sale, possession and use of marijuana for personal, industrial, or commercial use by any person twenty-one (21) years of age and older is lawful in this state and may be regulated, but not prohibited, subject to the following conditions: (a.) The cost of a license that shall be required by the state to authorize and regulate the cultivation, production, distribution, and the sale of marijuana and products containing marijuana shall not exceed two-hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00) per license per year, and any person twenty-one (21) years of age and older shall qualify to obtain such license, and there shall be no limit to the number of license issued in this state. (b.) The quantity of plants cultivated shall be limited to thirty-six (36) growing plants per qualified person, but the size of plants cultivated and the products produced shall not be limited or prohibited. (c.) The State excise tax imposed upon the sale of marijuana and products containing marijuana shall not exceed five percent (5%). (d.) The use of marijuana and products containing marijuana shall not be prohibited to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age whose physician has prescribed it.”
In a statement released by Rutledge, she says that the proposal is being rejected because of ambiguities in the text, “including whether or not a license is required, whether taxes are allowed and whether a parent could provide medical marijuana to a minor child.”
Judd Deere, A spokesperson from her office, said the rejection does not affect the 2016 proposal that had been previously accepted.
The change to marijuana laws in Arkansas will likely follow in the footsteps of the Arizona legalization that will likely take place in 2018.