Hutchinson urges police association to oppose recreational marijuana amendment

Hutchinson urges police association to oppose recreational marijuana amendment

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told a police officers association this week that the officers should “stand firm” in their opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana and provide a stipend for law enforcement officers, according to a report from the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record

Hutchinson made his remarks early in the day before the state Board of Election Commissioners voted unanimously not to certify the ballot title of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment sponsored by Responsible Growth Arkansas

Speaking to the Arkansas Municipal Police Association in Hot Springs, Hutchinson explained how 15% of the tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales would go to a stipend for law enforcement officers but said the officers should “stand firm” in their opposition to a “harmful drug,” according to a report in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record. 

Now, they’re going to sell this as something that’s going to help law enforcement. Fifteen percent of the revenue from the taxes on the sales of marijuana will go to a fund to support law enforcement stipends, 10% of it will go to UAMS in Little Rock and 5% will go to drug courts. 

And so, once again, they are selling a harmful drug to the citizens of Arkansas based upon promises that look good. Now, those promises might be a reality, but I think you’ve got to be prepared for this debate.

Hutchinson also outlined his reasons for opposition. 

And the reason I oppose it is simply this: that it will increase the usage of marijuana. I believe that marijuana is a harmful drug. It is as simple as that. 

Hutchinson cited Alaska’s history with marijuana as an example of the harm of decriminalization. Alaska decriminalized the drug in the 1970s and later re-criminalized it after marijuana use went up, he said, according to the Sentinel-Record report. 

The report did not say if Hutchinson mentioned that Alaska voters approved a recreational marijuana amendment in 2014 with 53% of voters in support. 

The secretary of state’s office determined last week that the proposed amendment had more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Responsible Growth Arkansas also needed the Board of Election Commissioners to certify the ballot title. 

Responsible Growth Arkansas counsel Steve Lancaster said the group will appeal directly to the state Supreme Court this week and a decision would likely come by October. The measure will not appear on the November ballot, barring intervention from the Supreme Court.