Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday released an opinion rejecting the wording for a proposed ballot initiative which would allow voters to decide whether to end the state’s legal prohibition of marijuana.
It marks the seventh time dating back to 2011 that the office rejected similar measures, but Robert Reed, chair of the group Arkansans for Medical Cannabis, told me they would keep trying.
To be clear, this measure would completely legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale and use of marijuana and products derived from marijuana — not just for medical use. Two separate ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical purposes have been approved by McDaniel — one from the group Arkansans for Responsible Medicine and another from the group Arkansans for Compassionate Care. The groups are now attempting to collect signatures to get the measures on the 2014 ballot.
McDaniel found that Reed’s proposal contained “confusing and ambiguous” wording that made it impossible for him to certify the ballot title.
“It’s real simple, the powers that be do not want this legal in the state of Arkansas,” Reed said. Reed’s weekly radio show on KABF is about to come on at 3, and I suspect this will be his main topic if you want to hear more.
McDaniel’s role here, of course, is not to weigh in on the merits of the law but to make sure that the purpose of the proposed act is described honestly and clearly (though that can be a politically charged question).
Eventually, if not by 2014, a ballot initiative will surely be approved. This is another issue on which the tides are turning quickly, and the public may be moving faster than the lawmakers who serve them. I thought the finding below, released last week, was interesting, if not surprising.