Change on the horizon in Arkansas
Despite a valiant effort last election to bring more sanity to Arkansas’ law on marijuana, Arkansas lawmakers continue to ignore the clear trend of history. According to a recent poll, 77% of Americans believe medical marijuana should be available as an option for seriously ill patients. After proponents obtained over 100,000 signatures to put a medical marijuana measure on the ballot, nearly 49% of the voters in Arkansas voted in favor of Issue 5. Unfortunately, the vote was not enough to pass this compassionate initiative.
The state’s elected officials entirely ignored the issue and did not present any marijuana policy reform bills during the last session, which adjourned in April 2013. Still, the progress made by this campaign shows that day will come soon, and the support Issue 5 got from voters was the highest level of support for any statewide marijuana reform initiative in the South – sending a clear message to legislators that change is coming.
Make your voice for heard, and write to your legislators now and encourage them to create an effective medical marijuana law.
In addition to failing to protect vulnerable patients, Arkansas legislators missed a chance to free up officers’ time to focus on crimes with victims. In 2011, there were 5,665 marijuana arrests reported by state law enforcement. Of those arrests, 89% were for marijuana possession. During the same year, law enforcement solved only 9.3% of all motor vehicle thefts and 8.9% of all burglaries, including home invasions. Law enforcement should stop wasting time on marijuana-related offenses and use its resources to stop real crime. Recent victories in Washington and Colorado are showing that regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol is a smarter approach that can save taxpayers money and bring more sanity to laws that are out of step with what a majority of Americans want. Why not ask your legislators to support a similar proposal in Arkansas?
Marijuana Laws in Arkansas
Possession of less than four ounces of marijuana in Arkansas is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 (A.R.C. §5-64-419). Possession of an ounce of marijuana or more by those who have twice been convicted of possession is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to six years and a fine of up to $6,000.
If you’d like to see changes to Arkansas’ harsh, ineffective marijuana laws, take just a minute of your time to send a message to your state legislators urging them to consider decriminalizing possession of modest amounts of marijuana in Arkansas.
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