March 23, 2023

Accountable Progress Arkansas touts $13 million raised, assist from locals

Touting a well-financed marketing campaign and assist from Arkansas enterprise house owners and their workers, Accountable Progress Arkansas, the professional leisure marijuana group, mentioned Tuesday (Nov. 1) it was serving the curiosity of state residents.

RGA is the poll query committee for Challenge 4, which might legalize leisure hashish for adults over the age of 21, permitting them to own as much as one ounce of marijuana. If permitted this November, the measure wouldn’t solely legalize adult-use hashish, however it could earmark tax proceeds for regulation enforcement stipends, most cancers analysis at UAMS, drug courts throughout Arkansas, and common state revenues.

It additionally units up a course of for licensing retail dispensaries that features current medical marijuana operations in addition to creates new licenses for extra stores and cultivators. Voters permitted a constitutional modification in 2016 that legalized medical marijuana.

Lance Huey, a former Arkansas sheriff and co-chairman of RGA, mentioned at a Little Rock press convention that the group’s poll signatures of practically 200,000, the scores of medical marijuana companies, and their 1000’s of workers present assist for broader entry to marijuana.

“I can let you know we don’t must defund the police, we have to fund the police and a vote for Challenge 4 gives important regulation enforcement funding. I do know first-hand it’s time for our regulation enforcement to have the time and sources to go after severe crime and never low-level misdemeanors,” Huey mentioned.

Huey additionally derided the out-of-state funding that’s opposing Challenge 4. Protected and Safe Communities is the poll query committee opposing Challenge 4. It has raised a bit of greater than $2 million this cycle to battle the measure. Richard Uhlien of Lake Bluff, Ailing., and Ronald Cameron of Little Rock have every contributed $1 million.

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Huey mentioned RGA’s $13 million has come principally from in-state contributions. He additionally bragged on the quantity of tax collections that Arkansas has acquired from medical marijuana gross sales and mentioned Challenge 4 will make that tax base even stronger. A latest UA Little Rock examine funded by RGA confirmed Arkansas might add $2.4 billion to state GDP and 6,400 new jobs over a five-year interval.

Huey addressed issues raised yesterday from enterprise and business leaders who mentioned legalizing marijuana would scale back the state’s workforce pool and doubtlessly result in extra work-related accidents.

“We don’t need anyone impaired on the job,” he mentioned.

In his Monday press convention with state enterprise leaders, Gov. Asa Hutchinson mentioned legalizing leisure marijuana use would supply one other drawback for employers to cope with.

“Let’s scale back the variety of dangerous substances that would impair our workforce. It’s so simple as that to me,” Hutchinson mentioned.

Eddie Armstrong, co-chair of RGA and a former state consultant, addressed issues from opponents who say that legalizing marijuana will result in it being a gateway to different drug use. He known as that “hypothesis,” whereas Huey mentioned state regulators will arrange boundaries to guard youngsters from accessing adult-use hashish, identical to they do with alcohol.

When requested if Challenge 4 would create a monopoly for the medical marijuana enterprise, which shall be grandfathered in for licenses, Armstrong pointed to the supporters within the crowd.

“These are on a regular basis, working Arkansans,” he mentioned.

At Tuesday’s press convention, RGA additionally revealed that it’s engaged on an in depth plan to deal with restorative justice to those that are incarcerated for possession of marijuana. The group mentioned the proposal will embody expungement for minor marijuana offenses and so they hope to go a brand new regulation within the upcoming legislative session. Challenge 4 doesn’t tackle this side of marijuana convictions.

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A Discuss Enterprise & Politics-Hendrix School Ballot in mid-October confirmed the race has tightened significantly in latest weeks. 50.5% supported Challenge 4, whereas 43% opposed. The remaining 6.5% have been undecided.