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Over 193K Arkansans sign recreational marijuana petition ahead of election

Responsible Growth Arkansas turned in more than 190,000 signatures. That's more than double the required minimum to get on the ballot this November.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The race to get recreational marijuana on the November ballot took a big step Friday after a petition group turned in more signatures than expected.

Friday was the last day for petition groups to send in signatures, and Responsible Growth Arkansas turned in 193,000 signatures— which is more than double the required minimum of 89,000.

Now, the group waits as those signatures get verified by the Secretary of State's office.

"We've had signatures, and Arkansans from every county have signed our petition," said Steve Lancaster, counsel for Responsible Growth Arkansas.

The group wants to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, reform existing drug laws, and remove taxes from the state's medical marijuana program.

"We're very excited. We think the ability to get this many signatures in what is clearly a difficult process shows the statewide support we have for this initiative," said Lancaster.

If the petition is approved for the ballot and Arkansans vote for it, then existing medical marijuana dispensaries will get a license to sell recreationally. 

Unlike medical marijuana, where it took years to get the first dispensary operating, this is expected to happen in just a couple months.

"If this is something that was embraced, then in the first few months of 2023 it would require the state to move quickly in getting those licenses issued," said Scott Hardin, spokesperson for Arkansas' Medical Marijuana Commission.

Arkansans should know by the end of August if legalizing recreational marijuana will be on the ballot.

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