The state Supreme Court determined on Friday that a new group formed to oppose recreational marijuana can intervene in a case that will determine the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas.
The Supreme Court ordered Save Arkansas from Epidemic, formed this week by Fairfield Bay Police Chief David Burnett and Little Rock attorney AJ Kelly, to file its answer to the original complaint in the case brought by Responsible Growth Arkansas by Monday at 4 p.m. The group will also file a brief by August 30, the court said.
Save Arkansas from Epidemic, which also listed Ben Cross as a member, formed as a Ballot Question Committee earlier this week. The group said in its filing documents that it formed to “oppose the 2022 proposal to amend the Arkansas constitution, which would ‘legalize’ under state law the ‘recreational use’ of marijuana. Committee opposes legalization of recreational marijuana.”
Responsible Growth Arkansas is pushing the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas. The constitutional amendment would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and would allow for a total of 20 cultivators and 120 dispensaries in the state.
Responsible Growth gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot before the state Board of Election Commissioners voted unanimously not to certify the group’s ballot title.
Responsible Growth appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which ordered that the measure be placed on the ballot provisionally. The Supreme Court will hear arguments to determine whether votes on the measure should be counted during the November election.
Save Arkansas from Epidemic, which did not include any financial details in its filing, provided two affidavits to the court. An affidavit from Kevin Sabet, an author and assistant professor at Yale University, argued about the dangers of marijuana.
Sabet is the president and CEO of an Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which he formed with former congressman Patrick Kennedy in 2013. Sabet is a former advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Another affidavit from Burnett argued that the state’s law enforcement agencies would be burdened by legalization because drug dogs acquired and trained by the agencies could not be trained not to detect marijuana. The dogs are generally “trained across multiple illegal substances at the same time, to maximize their utility, and to minimize training costs,” according to the affidavit. The dogs, which generally cost $5,000 with training, would be “rendered useless” and would have to be replaced, the affidavit states.