Responsible Growth to file appeal to Supreme Court this week

Responsible Growth to file appeal to Supreme Court this week

Responsible Growth Arkansas intends to appeal the ruling of a state commission to the state Supreme Court by the end of the week, Responsible Growth counsel Steve Lancaster said Wednesday. 

The state Board of Election Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday not to certify Responsible Growth’s ballot title for the recreational marijuana amendment it was hoping to get on the November ballot. 

Lancaster said after the meeting he was disappointed in the commission’s decision not to certify the ballot title but said his group knew the ultimate decision would rest with the state Supreme Court. 

“We knew all along that we were going to end up in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court, so it’s no surprise that that’s where we’re heading,” Lancaster said. “We wish that we had gotten a better result from the board, but it’s not a complete surprise either watching this body in action for the last two years. [We are] disappointed but we’re going to be where we were going to be regardless.”

The state Board of Election Commissioners must certify ballot titles of amendments in order for amendments to make the ballot. Appeals of the board’s decisions go directly to the Supreme Court. 

Amendments also need 89,151 verified signatures, which the secretary of state’s office confirmed last week the group has submitted. 

Lancaster said the appeal to the Supreme Court could be filed as soon as Thursday but that the Supreme Court is unlikely to make a decision on the matter until October. In the meantime, the amendment could be placed on the ballot provisionally, he said, which would allow for it to be printed onto ballots while waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on whether to count the votes on the measure. 

“We continue to think we’ve got a very good ballot title that meets all the requirements that the Supreme Court has set out and exceeded [them],” Lancaster said. “We’re ready to test that.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners raised concerns about portions of the amendment that were not included in the ballot title such as the elimination of a 10 mg THC cap on edibles and elimination of background checks for some business owners. 

“That’s the standard thing that you see in any ballot title challenge,” Lancaster said. 

Challenges to ballot titles often cite a “laundry list” of items that are not included in the ballot title and the state Supreme Court has started to “routinely reject” those arguments, Lancaster said. 

“We think that this one is nothing more than another one of those laundry list kind of things,” he said. “We feel like we’ll get vindicated in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court.”