Democrat Jones reaffirms support for recreational marijuana, Libertarian supports as well

Democrat Jones reaffirms support for recreational marijuana, Libertarian supports as well

Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones reiterated his support for putting a recreational marijuana amendment on the ballot this November in a series of tweets Thursday night. 

Jones had issued a statement of support Wednesday afternoon before the state Board of Election Commissioners unanimously voted not to certify the ballot title of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment sponsored by Responsible Growth Arkansas. The issue now goes to the state Supreme Court, which will decide if voters will get the opportunity to weigh in on recreational marijuana on their 2022 ballots.

Jones’ initial statement pointed to the ballot initiative process and tax revenue as reasons for his support of the measure. On Thursday, Jones said his position hasn’t changed after the board unanimously voted not to certify Responsible Growth’s ballot title. Jones’ campaign website also declares his “Promise for a Just and Equitable Cannabis Industry” in which he states his support for expunging past criminal convictions of cannabis users. Responsible Growth’s amendment has no provision for expungement. 

On Thursday, Jones sent out this series of tweets reaffirming his support of recreational marijuana:

My stance on cannabis? Same as it has been — Legalize and decriminalize it. Democratize access for a wide and diverse set of entrepreneurs. Leverage the revenue opportunity to invest in an Arkansas where everyone can thrive. More:

Arkansans have a right to the ballot initiative process, and Arkansans should be able to have a say in whether or not recreational marijuana is approved in this state. The ballot initiative process is one of the few ways Arkansans get to have a seat at the table.

At our core, we need to focus and uplift efforts that amplify voice, that encourage participation and that promote democracy. Our next governor must speak up for democracy in Arkansas. As governor, I will support the right of citizens to propose and vote on the laws of the land.

We are the Natural State after all!

Libertarian nominee Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. offered this statement of support for letting the voters decide the fate of the amendment on Thursday: 

This is the second election cycle that amendments put forth by the citizens have been knocked off the ballot by establishment power in the state of Arkansas.  The people need to become acutely aware of this pattern of behavior by those currently in positions of power. The ballot initiative gathered almost 200k signatures. This is a clear indication of support for the amendment. The commission should approve the amendment and let the people decide.

Harrington told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week that he supports Responsible Growth’s amendment but preferred the less restrictive proposal of Arkansas True Grass that did not gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson recently issued a statement in opposition to the Responsible Growth amendment. 

I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. The biggest challenge with the legalization of marijuana is that it dramatically increases marijuana use and the harm that goes with it. Also, I do not support a measure that would directly violate federal law.

We have also asked Judd Deere, spokesman for Republican nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for the Republican nominee’s position on the issue. Deere said he was update us when he has a response. 

Here is Jones’ original statement:

LITTLE ROCK – Gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones issued the below statement today in support of the Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Initiative which is set to appear on the November 8, 2022 ballot.  Jones himself is on the November 8 election ballot, running for governor against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s former spokesperson. 

“Ballot initiatives elevate the voices of Arkansans, who have made very important decisions when given the opportunity to do so. This recreational marijuana ballot initiative is no different, and it is a chance for Arkansas to lead the South.

“I support the thoughtful decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, and I support the Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the ballot this November 8. Regardless of what one thinks personally about the prospect of legal recreational marijuana, the revenue created by this ballot initiative would support general fund investments that can unlock the potential of Arkansas – in areas like education starting with preschool, infrastructure starting with broadband, and economic development starting with jobs – while supporting the state drug court program, UAMS, and law enforcement.

“No matter the vote outcome, there will remain critically important issues, specifically, our great need to address the problematic social justice issues that are the direct result of the criminalization of marijuana. These critical issues can be solved if we come together and focus on solutions that benefit all Arkansans. That’s what I hope to do as Governor.”

In April, Jones shared his “Promise for a Just and Equitable Cannabis Industry,” his plans to support the development of a just and equitable cannabis industry that encourages economic growth, funds education programs and protects police officers and citizens alike.