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State Supreme Court rules for recreational marijuana to be voted on in November

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on September 22 that a recreational marijuana amendment will be voted on in the general election in November.

The Court ruled in favor of a petition filed by Eddie Armstrong and Lance Huey on behalf of Responsible Growth Arkansas requesting that John Thurston, the Secretary of State and chair of the State Board of Election Commissioners, certify the ballot measure.

The board had declined to certify the amendment’s popular name and ballot title, which Thurston called “insufficient” just over a week ago. Responsible Growth then filed its petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court.

“The Board had no authority to decline to certify the ballot title to the Secretary of State, and its action is without legal effect,” the opinion stated.

The court also addressed allegations regarding the ballot title, saying that “a ballot title does not need to include every possible consequence or impact of a proposed measure, and it does not need to address or anticipate every possible legal issue.”

“This court has long recognized the impossibility of preparing a ballot title that would suit everyone,” it added. “The ultimate issue is whether the voter, while inside the voting booth, is able to reach an intelligent and informed decision for or against the proposal and understands the consequences of his or her vote based on the ballot title.”

We conclude that the ballot title at issue is not insufficient for not explicitly stating that the proposed amendment would eliminate THC dosage limits in food and drink containing usable marijuana. Petitioners were not required to summarize the existing law related to THC dosage limits in those marijuana products. The ballot title identifies the sections of amendment 98 that would be repealed and the provisions that would replace those sections.

Arkansas State Supreme Court opinion, September 22

The ruling also concluded that the ballot title was not misleading regarding details pertaining to child-proof packaging and advertising restrictions that the amendment would repeal.

“The ballot title gives an accurate description of what the proposed amendment will do—require child­proof packaging and restrictions on advertising that appeals to children,” the opinion said.

“Respondents and Intervenors have not met their burden of proving that the ballot title is insufficient. The people will decide whether to approve the proposed amendment in November.”

Two justices dissented in part, with one calling the ballot title “partially misleading” and another justice joining.

The Court issued an initial injunction guaranteeing that the amendment would be on the ballot, but the status of whether votes on the measure would be counted was uncertain until today’s ruling, which orders the Secretary of State to certify the proposed amendment for inclusion on the November 8 general election ballot.

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