FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Voters in Arkansas can now head to the polls to vote on Issue 4. One business owner in Fayetteville is for recreational marijuana but against Issue 4.
Ranaga Farbiarz is the co-owner of the American Shaman Kava Bar in Fayetteville. He said he wants recreational marijuana to be legalized, but he thinks Issue 4 should expunge marijuana-related crimes and never thought he would be against a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana.
The main two complaints he has about the ballot measure are that there are no expungements for people who have committed marijuana-related crimes and the amendment does not allow for home-growth of marijuana.
“Cannabis is a natural plant, it’s actually a weed. If people can grow it in their own gardens for medicinal properties and recreational properties, it would just expand the access to more people it would lower the cost,” said Farbiarz.
When it comes to expungements, Farbiarz said there is a criminal record for a lot of Arkansans who have been convicted of crimes related to marijuana possession, and if it’s legalized, they shouldn’t have to continue to suffer for a previous crime that is now legal.
“It’s just a very important aspect of having legislation written into law that would recognize the fact that these people were unfairly treated,” said Farbiarz.
Lance Huey is the vice-chairman for Responsible Growth Arkansas, which is the organization that gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the midterm ballot. Huey said they were worried if they included measures like what Farbiarz suggests, it might not have made it on the November ballot.
“When you start putting expungement, when you start putting home-grown, we just felt as a committee that was something that would maybe not get on the ballot or not get past the voters,” said Huey.
A new poll by Talk Business & Politics, along with Hendrix College, shows 50.5% of voters are for or probably for Issue 4. 43% of voters are either against or probably against Issue 4. Huey expects the issue to pass based on polling results, but he also thinks expungement for crimes should be included. Although it won’t happen this election cycle, he said it could always happen in the future.
“There’s always a chance that the federal government will move or the state governments can move,” said Huey.
Still, Farbiarz wants broader recreational marijuana legislation and is worried if the ballot amendment passes, it will be hard to change.
“It’s not well-written, and there’s a lot of things in it that will restrict access for the general public. It’s not better than nothing,” said Farbiarz.
If Issue 4 passes, up to 10% of retail cannabis sales will go towards funding local police departments, cancer research and drug court programs.
Early voting is open through Nov. 7. Election day is Nov. 8.