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'89,000 signatures:' Arkansans petitioning for marijuana legalization ahead of elections

Ahead of the upcoming election, Arkansans are signing petitions in their push for legal marijuana, which needs more than 89,000 signatures to qualify for ballots.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The push to get recreational marijuana legalized on Arkansas ballots is one step closer. 

Canvassers are now out getting signatures. The goal is to get enough to be qualified for the upcoming election to let Arkansans decide whether or not marijuana should be legal for adults.

Responsible Growth Arkansas is one of the petitions trying to get enough signatures to get on the ballot this election. 

Currently they already have thousands of signatures, but they need more before that deadline hits later this summer. 

That's why they have canvassers out trying to beat the heat and beat the deadline.

"We are very confident that we are going to bring in well over 100,000 signatures in the coming weeks leading up to election day," said Chairman Eddie Armstrong. "We've got northwest Arkansas, northeast Arkansas, especially central Arkansas really covered up."

By July 8, petitions need to reach a goal of over 89,000 signatures to make it onto the ballot this fall.

There are two other groups trying to get on the ballot: Arkansas True Grass and Arkansas Cannabis Industry.

One of the petitions, Arkansas Marijuana Amendment of 2022, has dropped out this year but sponsor Melissa Fults said they are working to get it on the ballot in 2024.

Right now, Responsible Growth Arkansas is at 50,000 signatures.

"What that has shown us is that the momentum is there. People do want to see legalized cannabis," said Armstrong.

If this passed, it would legalize marijuana for adults, reform existing drug laws, dedicate marijuana tax income towards the state court and law enforcement systems, and remove taxes from our medical marijuana program.

It's something that not only Armstrong is eager for, but also many others in the state.

"So, we actually celebrated three years of this program this week. The first dispensary opened in the state on May 10th of 2019," said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana Commission. 

Since then, Arkansans have purchased almost 100,000 pounds of marijuana. 

The program is not completed just yet. There are still two dispensary licenses that need to be given out, but they are held up in court battles.

As of today, there are 38 dispensaries in Arkansas and 82,000 medical marijuana patients.