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The backers of an effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas reversed course Wednesday, deciding not to delay their efforts until 2022 after all.

Last weekend, the organizers of Arkansas True Grass had informed their supporters that they would abandon the group’s signature-collection efforts to get a recreational pot-legalization question on the state ballot this fall. The group had difficulties collecting petition signatures during the covid-19 pandemic.

However, a federal court ruling Monday allowing advocates to begin collecting signatures remotely caused the group’s leaders to change their minds, a representative said.

“We’re going to keep trying for it, and if we fail, we have 2022 as a backup,” said Briana Boling, one of the organizers of Arkansas True Grass.

The group is one of two pushing for an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to legalize recreational pot for all adults. The other, Arkansans for Cannabis Reform, had previously determined it would continue trying for a 2020 vote on the issue.

That group’s leader, Melissa Fults, similarly praised the federal ruling, on Tuesday calling it “the best thing in the world to happen to us so far.”

Fults’ group has significantly outraised Arkansas True Grass, and has begun hiring professional canvassing firms to help it collect the nearly 90,000 required signatures before the July 3 deadline.

Boling said Wednesday she did not have an up-to-date tally on how many signatures her group has collected.

On Tuesday, in explaining the group’s since-reversed decision to refocus on 2022, Boling said Arkansas True Grass had mailed out 350 petition forms to canvassers and got only four back.

By about 6 percentage points, Arkansas voters approved Amendmenvc t 98 to legalize medical marijuana in 2016. The vote made Arkansas one of the first states in the South to legalize medical marijuana. However, the first legal sales of pot did not begin until May 2019.

There are 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. None is in the South.

Metro on 05/31/2020

Print Headline: Marijuana advocates recommit to ballot quest

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