Arkansas Voters Reject Marijuana Legalization
Arkansas voters today rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. With 84 percent of ballots reported, 56 percent of voters had said no to Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that would have allowed adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and authorized current medical dispensaries, plus up to 40 additional licensees, to serve the recreational market, with sales taxed at 10 percent.
The 2016 Arkansas initiative that legalized medical use passed with support from 53 percent of voters, and early polling suggested a similar proportion of voters would favor Issue 4. But subsequent surveys found that support for legalization was dropping.
A Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College poll conducted in February found that 54 percent of likely voters thought marijuana should be “legal for adults,” compared to 32 percent who said it should be legal only for medical use and 11 percent who thought it should not be legal at all. A survey of likely voters from the same source put support for Issue 4 at a bare majority (51 percent) in mid-October, while a University of Arkansas poll conducted around the same time found that just 41 percent of Arkansas adults favored the measure.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who ran the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from 2001 to 2003, opposed the initiative and urged law enforcement agencies to “stand firm” against it. The initiative’s opponents also included the state’s two Republican senators, Tom Cotton and John Boozman; Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders; and organizations such as the Arkansas Family Council, Safe and Secure Communities, and Save Arkansas From Epidemic.
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