New opposition group seeks to intervene in marijuana case at Supreme Court August 18, 2022 By Griffin Coop The police chief of Fairfield Bay (Van Buren County) formed a committee this week to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana in Arkansas. The group is attempting to intervene in a Supreme Court battle that will determine whether votes should be counted on the matter this November, according to court records and filing documents. David Burnett, police chief of Fairfield Bay, and Little Rock attorney AJ Kelly filed papers this week to form Save Arkansas from Epidemic. The committee stated in its filing that its purpose is to “oppose the 2022 proposal to amend the Arkansas constitution, which would ‘legalize’ under state law the ‘recreational use’ of marijuana. Committee opposes legalization of recreational marijuana.” The group did not report any financial contributions in its filing, which also listed Ben Cross as part of the committee. The filing did not list any more information for Cross. On Wednesday, the group filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to intervene in the case that will decide whether votes on Responsible Growth Arkansas’s amendment will be counted. Last week, the court ordered that the amendment be placed on the ballot provisionally while it hears arguments as to whether votes should be counted. Save Arkansas from Epidemic stated in its motion that it seeks to “protect the interests and rights of Arkansans who oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.” The filing also says the group has requested agreement from the parties in the case but has not heard back from them. Save Arkansas from Epidemic’s filing includes an affidavit from Kevin Sabet, assistant professor at Yale University and author of several books about marijuana. Sabet’s books include “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths about Marijuana” and “Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know.” Sabet states in his affidavit that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, “causes many different types of mental and physiological health problems, especially in children, young adults, and pregnant women.” Sabet also states that frequent use and an increase in potency of marijuana, as compared to the lower THC content of what he calls “Woodstock Weed,” is associated with severe impacts on mental health. He says this is evidenced by “psychosis, suicidality, reshaping of brain matter and addiction.” In another affidavit submitted to the court, Burnett states that he is a certified law enforcement officer with more than 28 years experience and that he currently serves as the police chief of a “small municipal jurisdiction.” The document is marked as coming from Van Buren County, home of Fairfield Bay, which has a police chief named David Burnett. Burnett’s affidavit focuses on “drug dogs,” stating they cost about $5,000 to train and that they would be “rendered useless” if recreational marijuana is legalized. “If marijuana is ‘legalized’ with the proposed constitutional amendment, all of the dogs used to interdict drugs in the state of Arkansas would be rendered useless, because they cannot be ‘untrained’ to recognize marijuana; consequently, new drug dogs would have to be acquired, trained and used to replace existing dogs,” Burnett’s affidavit states. If more than 100 dogs are currently in use in the state, replacements and training would cost more than $500,000, the affidavit states. Responsible Growth filed a response Thursday morning, urging the court not to allow the group to intervene in the case. Responsible Growth’s response argues that the new group’s submission “comes too late in this expedited proceeding without explanation, poses prejudice to petitioners by interjecting new issues when time is running short and is unnecessary because respondents adequately represent intervenors’ interests.” In a separate matter, Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb disclosed that her spouse is working under contract on the reelection campaign of Secretary of State John Thurston, who is a respondent in the case. Webb asked the parties in the case to notify her if they have information that would necessitate that she disqualify herself from the case. Webb’s husband, Doyle Webb, is the former chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas and a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor.