Arkansas Moves Forward With Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Initiative with Approved Signature Announcement

Arkansas Moves Forward With Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Initiative with Approved Signature Announcement

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The Secretary of State for Arkansas, John Thurston’s office, has confirmed that Responsible Growth Arkansas gathered enough valid signatures to qualify its amendment for the November ballot.

Responsible Growth Arkansas, an agency advocating for the passage of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution which will authorize the possession, personal use, and consumption of cannabis by adults 21 and over, as well as the cultivation and sale of cannabis by licensed commercial facilities now moves close to getting the legalization measure listed for voters on a ballot ahead of November. The first step was verification of enough qualified signatures.

According to the Associated Press, Responsible Growth Arkansas turned in more than 190,000 signatures on July 8 and announced that it had met the signature requirement of 89,151 valid signatures from registered voters on July 29.

Current Secretary of State Thurston who was first elected as Secretary in November of 2018, previously served eight years as Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands. The next step for the ballot initiative is a review by the state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday, August 3rd approving the proposal’s popular name and ballot title in order for November vote qualification.

The reform of the state’s current constitutional amendment would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for persons 21 and older. Arkansas voters approved a medical cannabis legalization initiative in 2016.

The bill’s impact will be felt throughout the cannabis industry, including growers and dispensaries. A portion of the tax revenue from a 10% cannabis sales would go to public safety and medical research, while taxes on medical marijuana would be abolished.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, previously the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization. The governor’s opinion, according to recent polling, is at odds with what most Arkansans believe about cannabis.

Arkansas Medical Cannabis

In 2016, Arkansas voters approved Amendment 98, a ballot measure that legalized medical cannabis. In 2017, the legislature amended the voter-approved legislation. The first clinical facility in Arkansas did not open until 2019. Since then, nearly 100,000 individuals have joined the medical marijuana program, with dozens of dispensaries across the state currently operating.

Medical Marijuana Arkansas

Current Arkansas Marijuana Laws

The following law information is courtesy of Norml.org.

Possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana in Arkansas is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

With increased weight the penalties increase with subjects in possession of between 1 ounce and less than 4 ounces by an offender who has had 4 or more previous drug convictions is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of any more than 4 ounces and less than 10 pounds is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of between 10 pounds and less than 25 pounds is a Class C Felony, punishable by a mandatory 3 year minimum sentence, up to 10 years, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Possession of between 25 pounds and less than 100 pounds is a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Possession by 100 pounds and less than 500 pounds is a Class A Felony, punishable by a mandatory 6 year minimum sentence, up to 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Possession with Intent to Deliver

Possession of up to 14 g (1/2 Oz) of marijuana with the intent to deliver it to an another individual is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Possession of between 14 g (1/2 Oz) and less than 4 ounces of marijuana with the intent to deliver it to an another individual is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of between 4 ounces and less than 25 pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver it to an another individual is a Class C Felony, punishable by a mandatory 3 year minimum sentence, up to 10 years, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Possession of between 25 pounds and less than 100 pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver it to an another individual is a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Possession of between 100 pounds and less than 500 pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver it to an another individual is a Class A Felony, punishable by a mandatory 6 year minimum sentence, up to 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Possession with Intent to Distribute can be shown if the:

  1. Person possesses means to weigh and separate marijuana
  2. Person possesses a written record of drug transactions
  3. Marijuana is bagged separately to facilitate delivery
  4. Person possesses a firearm on their person
  5. Person possesses at least 2 other controlled substances in addition to the marijuana
  6. Any other proof that the individual was intending to deliver the marijuana can be shown.

Delivery

Delivering 14g or less of marijuana to another individual, with or without remuneration, is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Delivering between 14g and less than 4 ounces of marijuana to another individual, with or without remuneration, is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Delivering between 4 ounces and less than 25 pounds of marijuana to another individual, with or without remuneration, is a Class C Felony, punishable by a mandatory 3 year minimum sentence, up to 10 years, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Delivering between 25 pounds and less than 100 pounds of marijuana to another individual, with or without remuneration, is a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Delivering between 100 pounds and less than 500 pounds of marijuana to another individual, with or without remuneration, is a Class A Felony, punishable by a mandatory 6 year minimum sentence, up to 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Delivering marijuana to a minor at least 3 years younger than the deliverer will result in a doubled penalty.

A second or subsequent conviction will result in a doubled penalty.

Cultivation

Cultivation in Arkansas is punished as either simple possession or as possession with intent to deliver, depending on the amount of marijuana being produced and other factors that may lead to the conclusion that the marijuana was being grown for reasons other than strict personal use.

Manufacture

Manufacturing 14 g or less of marijuana is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Manufacturing between 14 g and 4 ounces of marijuana is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Manufacturing between 4 ounces and 25 pounds of marijuana is a Class C Felony, punishable by a mandatory 3 year minimum sentence, up to 10 years, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Manufacturing between 25 pounds and 100 pounds of marijuana is a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Manufacturing 100 pounds or more of marijuana is a Class A Felony, punishable by a mandatory 6 year minimum sentence, up to 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

A second or subsequent conviction will result in a doubled penalty.

Trafficking

Possessing 500pounds or more of marijuana is classified as trafficking and is a Class Y Felony, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 40 years imprisonment.

Hash & Concentrates

Penalties for hashish are the same as for marijuana. Please see the marijuana penalties section for further details.

Paraphernalia

Possession with purpose to use paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Possession of growing paraphernalia is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Delivering of drug paraphernalia to a minor at least 3 years younger than the deliverer is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Delivery during the course and in furtherance of a felony violation is a Class B Felony and punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Delivering of growing paraphernalia to a minor at least 3 years younger than the deliverer is a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, up to 20 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

A second or subsequent conviction will result in a doubled penalty.

Miscellaneous

Whenever a person pleads guilty, nolo contendere, or is found guilty of any criminal offense involving the illegal possession or use of controlled substances, or of any drug offense, in this state or any other state, the court having jurisdiction of such matter… shall prepare… an order to suspend the driving privileges of the person for six (6) months.

CONDITIONAL RELEASE

The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.

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