Marijuana, Redistricting Make Another Play for 2022
There are now four marijuana proposals competing for voter signatures to qualify for a spot on the 2022 ballot in Arkansas, a state where voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2016.
Responsible Growth Arkansas filed its constitutional amendment with the Secretary of State's Office on Jan. 24, about three months after filing its financial paperwork with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
As of its January financial report, the group led by former state legislator Eddie Armstrong had raised $1.75 million from marijuana cultivation companies. The group seeks to legalize the growth, sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes.
Melissa Fults, who led a popular medical marijuana proposal in the 2016 general election, also filed a marijuana initiative since our December newsletter.
The Arkansas Marijuana Amendment of 2022 replaces a proposal Fults filed in November that included expunging criminal records. Fults said the newer proposal, filed Dec. 29, fixed some problems with the earlier draft. The newer version still contains a provision allowing people convicted of certain marijuana offenses to have their criminal records expunged.
The proposals from the two groups differ in their methods on preserving the medical marijuana program while adding recreational sales and modifying dispensary ownership requirements via changes to Amendment 98. Two additional marijuana proposals filed months ago also seek to legalize cannabis for personal use.
Another ballot issue from the past is making a resurgence.
Supporters of changing the process for redrawing state and federal voting districts have filed a new proposal to create a citizen-led redistricting commission. The Arkansas Supreme Court removed a similar issue from the ballot in 2020 over the miswording of campaign statements related to canvasser background checks.
David Couch filed the new proposal for the Arkansas Citizens Redistricting Commission Amendment. He said the proposal would set up the same type of commission as what he proposed in 2020 before the Census took place.
Redistricting Referendums Off the Table
Arkansas' new voting districts for U.S. House of Representatives went into effect this month after a group seeking a voter referendum on the boundaries failed to turn in any voter signatures by a Jan. 13 petition deadline.
Arkansas legislators approved new maps for voting districts after the 2020 Census during a special session last year. Arkansans for a Unified Natural State filed a referendum proposal in October challenging the Senate and House bills that established the federal districts. The group had to collect more than 50,000 voter signatures by Jan. 13 to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.
The Secretary of State's Office didn't receive any petitions.
Status of Statewide Ballot Issues
As of Jan. 25, 2022, titles for 12 ballot issue have been filed with the Secretary of State's Office for the November 2022 election. Proposals from the legislature and those filed by citizen groups can be found in our monthly Arkansas Ballot Issue Education newsletter at https://conta.cc/33TsWon