LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – A local group will file two ballot petitions with the Arkansas Secretary of State on Wednesday. The first proposes to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult recreational use in the state by December 4, 2020 while the second would allow persons with cannabis convictions involving less than 16 ounces to petition for expungement.

The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment (AAUCA)
The AAUCA would designate the state Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration to issue licenses and establish the rules of the program while setting the minimum number of cultivation and distribution licenses allowed. Dispensaries licensed under Amendment 98 will be able to sell to adults 21 years of age and older starting December 4, 2020. Small home cultivation of six mature plants and six seedlings will be allowed.

The Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment [AMEA]
The AMEA will allow persons with marijuana convictions involving marijuana paraphernalia or less than sixteen (16) ounces of marijuana to petition a court for release from incarceration, reduction of sentence, expungement of the conviction and/or restoration of rights. The amendment would authorize the creation of a dedicated court for this purpose.

The amendments are filed by Melissa Fults, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Education Group, a 501(c)4 nonprofit dedicated to reducing harm and promoting education about drug policies.

“Other states have seen better, safer outcomes by removing the black market elements created by the illegal sale of cannabis. The truth is that cannabis is safer than alcohol while prohibition is ineffective and racially biased. It has done far more harm in our community than cannabis,” said Melissa Fults, Executive Director of Drug Policy Education Group. Fults was also the campaign manager of the 2012 and 2016 efforts to establish medical cannabis in the state.

The AAUCA would provide a much-needed stimulus for the Arkansas economy. Recent reports stated that the sale of medical cannabis reached $2.2 million in the first two months of sales with only a few dispensaries online. Tax revenues for the amendment would first go to staff the Alcohol Beverage Control Division with excess revenues going toward pre-K and after-school programs and University of Arkansas Medical Sciences.

The mission of DPEG is to educate Arkansas citizens and leaders about drug reform policies, issues, and facts in order to best mitigate the harms of drug use and prohibition in our state.