POISED TO VOTE: City leaders will vote next week on an ordinance proposed by Ward 2 city director Ken Richardson that would make misdemeanor marijuana offenses the "lowest law enforcement priority" for the Little Rock Police Department. BRIAN CHILSON

Little Rock City Director Ken Richardson says he plans to reintroduce an ordinance that would de-emphasize arrests for personal use of marijuana at the Little Rock Board’s next meeting.

Richardson tried to establish the policy by ordinance last year, but was defeated on a 6-2 vote after then-Chief Kenton Buckner opposed the ordinance.

Soon after Keith Humphrey replaced Buckner, Richardson wrote him, urging Humphrey to support the ordinance.

Today, Richardson wrote to City Attorney Tom Carpenter to tell him he plans to bring his ordinance back before the board and to complain about city officials slow-walking an alternative administrative fix. Richardson said in his email to Carpenter that in June Humphrey and his assistant chiefs had agreed to de-emphasize marijuana arrests through an administrative directive, similar to what Jacksonville Police Chief John Franklin did last year in his department. Richardson said he was assured that Carpenter, Chief Humphrey and Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s office would come together to quickly craft a directive.


Richardson says he’s frustrated that hasn’t happened and he hasn’t been updated on the effort.

Here’s the full note:


I’m planning on re-introducing the marijuana arrest priority ordinance during our next meeting. After meeting with Chief Humphrey, Assistant Chief Finks, Assistant Chief Bewley last month, we agreed to address this issue from an administrative process. I believe Oklahoma City and New York City utilize this process unlike Fayetteville which used a ballot initiative to  resolve. Additionally, I believe the new police Chief in Jacksonville initiated this as an administrative directive to guide his department operating principles as his first administrative change in his department. We agreed to try this approach during our meeting and Assistant Chief Bewley suggested that we include you in order to address the legality of what we were attempting. I left the meeting with the understanding that your office, Chief Humphrey and Charles would meet quickly to craft an approach that would preempt an ordinance. To date, I’ve yet to see a draft, anymore updates or anticipated timelines. Needless to say, this is both frustrating and confusing so let’s proceed with our previous attempt. If additional information is needed, please advise.