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Election officials reject Arkansas recreational marijuana ballot title

The recreational marijuana ballot title was denied certification by the State Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday.

ARKANSAS, USA β€” On Wednesday afternoon, the state Board of Election Commissioners denied the certification for the recreational marijuana ballot title proposal

The proposal was denied due to concerns that Responsible Growth Arkansas did not have sufficient background checks for dispensary owners or limits on THC.

"It could be a group of them and every single person who owned it would be exempt and they could do that 18 times.  I know that won't happen that much, but the potential is still there," said Commissioner Bilenda Harris-Ritter.

"That limit on the edible is important because a potential negative is kids, you know, edibles kind of look like gummy bears," said Commissioner James Harmon Smith.

Despite Arkansans having exceeded the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, the proposal that would have allowed people 21 and older to have up to an ounce of cannabis was denied.

The lawyer for Responsible Growth Arkansas said they will now appeal this decision to the state's Supreme Court.

Steve Lancaster, counsel for Responsible Growth Arkansas, said, "We believe that once our arguments are heard before a court of law, we will successfully place this issue before the voters of Arkansas on November 8th. The amendment is sound, and we feel confident that will be the ruling of the courts."

The denial came a day after the Arkansas Secretary of State's office gave a notification of sufficiency for the signatures.

"With the support of almost 200,000 Arkansans already, public polls showing strong support for likely passage, and the incredible grassroots momentum we see growing around this issue every day, we believe this needs to be put before the voters of Arkansas. We are fully committed to arguing the merits of the amendment and ensuring that happens," Lancaster added.

Over 192,000 signatures were submitted in early July for the proposal, which exceeded the 89,151 signatures needed.

A total number of verified signatures has not been provided yet.

Another ballot title was denied by the commissioners. Fair Play for Arkansas was an initiative to prevent a casino from being built in Pope County. 

The commissioners denied it because Legends Casino was already issued a license in the county.

"Someone who goes in and thinks, 'I'm stopping gaming by voting yes on this,' will be sorely mistaken if the outcome of the litigation -- all the way to the Supreme Court -- if they come back and say the license is in effect and they can proceed on," said Commissioner Wendy Brandon.

Following the denial, legal counsel for Cherokee Nation Businesses also released a statement on the decision. 

β€œWe appreciate the thoughtful and diligent service of the Commissioners and agree with their decision to reject the popular name and ballot title submitted by Fair Play for Arkansas. We assume Fair Play will petition the Supreme Court to review this decision and we will intervene to assist the Attorney General’s office in defending it.” said Dustin McDaniel, legal counsel for Cherokee Nation Businesses.

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