State board to consider marijuana amendment Wednesday

State board to consider marijuana amendment Wednesday

The Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to consider whether the industry-backed proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas should appear on the November ballot.  

According to the meeting agenda, the board will perform regular business before considering the marijuana proposal followed by a proposed amendment concerning a casino in Pope County.  

The sponsor of the marijuana amendment, Responsible Growth Arkansas, cleared the first hurdle toward making the November ballot last week. The secretary of state’s office said last week that it had verified more than enough signatures for the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment to qualify for the ballot

The proposed amendment needed at least 89,151 verified signatures to qualify. Steve Lancaster, counsel for Responsible Growth, said last week that the secretary of state stopped counting the group’s signatures once they exceeded the threshold. Lancaster said staff from the secretary of state’s office told him they have “thousands and thousands” more petitions available to count if necessitated by a legal challenge. 

Secretary of State John Thurston said his office verified “no less than 90,375 signatures” in a letter of sufficiency Thurston issued Tuesday.

In order to make the ballot, the Board of Election Commissioners must also certify the popular name and ballot title of any amendment. The decision by the board can be appealed to the state Supreme Court by the amendment’s sponsor or any registered voter. 

For more on the Board of Election Commissioners’ role in the process, check out our explainer. 

For more on the progress of Responsible Growth’s proposed amendment since the group began the process last year, check out our summary of developments.