Voters Will Have Say on Issue 4, Court Decides
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Sept. 22 ruled that votes cast for or against Issue 4 will be counted.
Responsible Growth Arkansas appealed to the court after the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners wouldn't certify their ballot title for the proposal, which would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess one once of marijuana for non-medical purposes.
Under Issue 4, adults could purchase recreational marijuana from 80 new dispensaries allowed under the proposal or from existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
"Amendment 7's reservation to the people of the initiative power lies at the heart of our democratic institutions," the majority court opinion stated, citing a 1994 court opinion.
"We give the ballot title a liberal construction and interpretation in order that it secure the purposes of reserving to the people its power. And we recognize that it is impossible to prepare a ballot title that would suit everyone. With these standards in mind, we conclude that the ballot title at issue is complete enough to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and import of the proposed amendment."
Arkansas is one of five states, including Missouri, voting on opening up marijuana sales to adults. Sponsors in a sixth state, Oklahoma, found out this week they would have to wait until 2024 for their recreational marijuana issue to be on the ballot.
Justice Shawn Womack wrote in his dissent opinion that he thought the ballot title was partially misleading and the state had been correct to reject it.
"The proposed ballot title claims it is adding the requirement for child-proof packaging and restrictions on child-targeted advertising in its proposed amendment; it is not. In fact, the proposed amendment will repeal the existing safeguards against child consumption and replace them with far less stringent ones," Womack wrote.