Arkansas governor plans to vote against recreational marijuana legalization

As if the prospect of Arkansas legalizing recreational marijuana weren’t muddied enough, the state’s governor said he will vote no on an adult-use ballot measure in November.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted that he is “voting NO on Issue 4 to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas and I hope you’ll join me,” Little Rock TV station KATV reported.

“The science is clear,” wrote the Republican governor, linking to the website for anti-legalization advocacy group Safe and Secure Communities. “Recreational marijuana leads to increased drug use among minors & more dangerous roadways.

“This November, I’m voting NO on Issue 4 to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas and I hope you’ll join me.”

Of course, whether legalization will even be on the Nov. 8 ballot remains up in the air.

That’s because Safe and Secure Communities filed a motion on Aug. 25 with the Arkansas Supreme Court arguing that a constitutional amendment proposed to go before voters was “misleading, fraudulent, and illegal” under state law because the measure’s ballot title didn’t preserve the state’s medical THC limit.

The motion was in response to the high court’s order that the constitutional amendment be added to the ballot conditionally until the justices can rule on an earlier lawsuit by pro-legalization group Responsible Growth Arkansas.

Responsible Growth Arkansas had filed suit asking the high court to overturn a decision by the State Board of Election Commissioners to keep the amendment off the ballot.

Because the state Supreme Court can’t rule on Responsible Growth Arkansas’ lawsuit until after ballots have been printed, voters might be weighing in on an initiative that doesn’t exist.

An attorney for Responsible Growth Arkansas previously explained that Arkansans will “be able to cast a vote. But what’s going to happen in the interim is the Supreme Court will make its decision, and if they agree with us that our ballot title is good, then the votes will count.

“Otherwise, if the court decides that our ballot title is not sufficient, they’ll just never count those votes.”

Even if the proposed amendment does make its way to voters and they support legalization, the governor’s anti-cannabis stance and relationship to Safe and Secure Communities could cause problems for adult-use legalization down the road.