NORTHWEST, ARKANSAS (KNWA) — A group is pushing to get recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot.
The Drug Policy Education Group submitted two amendments on July 10, to make recreational marijuana legal in the natural state and allow people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses to petition courts for relief, including release from prison and expungement of their conviction.
The group is confident about seeing it on the ballot, but state senators have other opinions.
“The people of Arkansas are compassionate people so we passed medical marijuana but we are not interested in seeing our state go in the direction Colorado is going,” State Sen. Bart Hester said.
He said he believes there will be an uproar if legalizing recreational marijuana gets on a ballot, but the group thinks otherwise and is pushing to have up to a pound of marijuana for recreational purposes.
“To vape or do edibles it’s going to take a lot so when you are doing all that, 16 ounces really isn’t a lot,” Drug Policy Education Group Executive Director Melissa Fults said.
“I think any ounce is alarming much less 16 ounces,” Sen. Hester said.
Another proposed amendment the group is wanting on the ballot is to expunge certain marijuana criminal records.
“You could actually serve more time for a plant and that is wrong on so many levels, so we want to make sure no one has to do that anymore,” Fultz said.
According to Senator Hester, there should be consequences for breaking the law.
“It’s not some oh I have a joint on me and I’m getting 10 years, that is not the case,” Sen. Hester said. “Its like ah I did have a joint but I also had 10 pounds in the back of the car.”
Fultz said they are pushing these amendments because she sees marijuana as a safer choice, but Senator Hester thinks otherwise.
“It’s sad to see people going to jail because they would prefer to smoke a joint or eat a cookie rather than going out and getting drunk,” she said.
“The reality is, it is still a dangerous substance that destroys lives and destroys families and we have to hold people accountable for bad choices, Sen. Hester said.