Arkansas voters rejected a measure that would have made the state the second in the South to legalize cannabis for adults.
The state’s voters also picked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who opposed the legalization measure, as the next governor. Outgoing Governor Asa Hutchinson, as Cannabis Wire has reported, is a particularly loud opponent of legalization, too.
Adult use cannabis legalization was on the ballot, as Cannabis Wire reported, in Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota, too. Voters in Maryland, the only one of these states where lawmakers put the question of legalization on the ballot, said “yes.”
Of the $20 million these campaigns raised, almost all of it went toward Arkansas and Missouri, and mostly from existing cannabis companies that would benefit, as Cannabis Wire reported. These measures divided supporters of legalization because of provisions prioritizing existing cannabis operators and low emphasis on equity.
Before tonight, 19 states and D.C. legalized cannabis for adult use. (Also, ten years ago this month voters in Colorado and Washington made their states the first jurisdictions in the world to legalize cannabis for adult use. Read Cannabis Wire’s anniversary series.)
As Cannabis Wire recently reported, the ballot measure, Issue 4, would’ve legalized cannabis for adults age 21 and older and tasked the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration with regulation. It prioritized existing medical cannabis operators, and would’ve limited new adult use licenses. Tax revenue would’ve gone toward law enforcement (15%), the University of Arkansas for Medical Science (10%), and drug courts (5%). The measure did not reference home cultivation, expungement, or equity.
The Responsible Growth Arkansas campaign was led by former minority leader of the Arkansas House of Representatives Eddie Armstrong, who is now a founding partner of a cannabis consulting and investment firm.
Responsible Growth Arkansas raised $13.4 million. And, as Cannabis Wire reported, more than half of it came from just three operators.
The opposition was led by the Family Council Action Committee, which raised $341,873 as of November 1, and Safe and Secure Communities, which raised $2.3 million as of November 1.
Good Day Farm was a top campaign contributor in both Arkansas and Missouri, and, as Cannabis Wire recently reported, has also begun to lobby Congress on cannabis issues.