Responsible Growth releases first ad, focuses on law enforcement August 31, 2022 By Griffin Coop The industry-backed group trying to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas launched its first television ad this week, promoting the amendment as a way for voters to support police officers since a portion of recreational marijuana’s tax revenue would be dedicated to law enforcement. A vote for the issue is “a vote to support our police,” the ad’s narrator states, amid images of police officers and police cars. The 30-second ad mentions cannabis only once, stating that the amendment will “safely legalize the sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older.” The ad from Responsible Growth Arkansas can be seen here: “We support law enforcement,” Responsible Growth counsel Steve Lancaster said of the ad. “We think [the ad] is consistent with what we’re trying to do with the amendment.” Responsible Growth is pushing the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, which implements a 10% tax on recreational marijuana and dedicates 15% of that revenue to stipends for certified law enforcement officers. The amendment would also direct 10% of that revenue to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and 5% to drug courts with the remainder going to general revenues. The measure would also eliminate the tax on medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients pay a 6.5% sales tax and a 4% privilege tax on each purchase. Dispensaries pay a 4% privilege tax on purchases from cultivators. Medical marijuana has generated more than $75 million since the state program started in 2019, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration. Governor Hutchinson told the Arkansas Municipal Police Association earlier this month that the officers should “stand firm” in their opposition to the amendment, according to a report in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record. Hutchinson, who previously led the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, told the group that the amendment’s sponsors are “selling a harmful drug to the citizens of Arkansas based upon promises that look good.” Lancaster said his group has spoken with law enforcement officers who are supportive of the group’s efforts. “If we’re legalizing this, we think it strikes a blow to the black market, the cartels, the people who are selling on the street and we think that strikes a blow to crime,” Lancaster said. “It doesn’t have to be something that is cannabis users versus law enforcement. We think that those things can work together.” The ad’s focus on law enforcement comes amid a national and state–wide increase in crime, according to FBI crime data. The ad also comes at a time when Arkansas law enforcement is in the national spotlight after two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a Mulberry police officer were seen on video violently subduing a suspect. The three officers have been placed on administrative leave. Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones has said he supports the amendment, while Republican nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders has not publicly taken a position. Libertarian nominee Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. has said he supports the measure. The amendment is before the state Supreme Court after Responsible Growth appealed the state Board of Election Commissioners’ decision to reject the amendment’s ballot title earlier this month. The Supreme Court has ordered the amendment to be put on the November ballot and will determine whether the votes should be counted on the issue in November.