Advocates behind proposed ballot measure to legalize adult-use marijuana sales were dealt a significant setback on Wednesday when Arkansas election officials rejected certifying the measure for the November ballot. 

In July, the group Responsible Growth Arkansas submitted over 190,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in support of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment. On Friday, state officials verified that proponents had collected sufficient signatures to meet the state’s qualification requirements. (Advocates needed just over 89,000 valid signatures from registered voters.)

Days later, however, Board of Elections Commissioners voted to deny the measure’s proposed ballot title — opining that it does not accurately reflect the true scope of the initiative and that some elements of the proposal might be confusing to voters. Advocates are now anticipated to take the matter before the state Supreme Court.

The constitutional amendment seeks to establish a state-licensed retail cannabis market for those age 21 and older. It also seeks to expand the state’s existing medical cannabis access program by increasing the total number of licensed dispensaries and by eliminating certain taxes.

In recent years, courts have struck down marijuana-related ballot measures in a number of states, including Florida, Nebraska and South Dakota, because of opinions that their language was either overly broad or potentially misleading.

Adult-use legalization measures have already qualified for the 2022 ballot in Maryland and in South Dakota. Signatures in support of separate state efforts have been turned in an are awaiting verification in MissouriNebraska (medical only), North Dakota, and Oklahoma.


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