A new TV ad pushing for recreational marijuana is set to hit the airwaves on Wednesday (Aug. 31).
Responsible Growth Arkansas (RGA) is highlighting where some of the taxes derived from recreational cannabis sales will go in this new ad.
Whether Arkansans will see a recreational marijuana use question on the November ballot is yet to be determined as it is still being reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The State Board of Election Commissioners denied certification of the ballot title, but an appeal from the group’s supporters is being heard by the state’s high court. The court conditionally certified the measure to be on the November ballot while it decides whether the votes will count.
RGA hopes this ad will educate voters on Issue 4 in the meantime.
“The funding for law enforcement, for drug courts, for UAMS for research – I think that as a career law enforcement officer, and now that I’m in the Arkansas cannabis business, one of the questions that everybody always asks or statements that people make to me, I just wish they would legalize it and tax it and use the money for the common good,” said Lance Huey.
Huey is a former Arkansas State Police trooper, sergeant, and served nearly two terms as the Grant County Sheriff. Huey left the sheriff’s office to pursue a career as the Director of Security for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. He’s now part of the cannabis industry and RGA.
“As a former law enforcement officer – when I look across the state or I talk to law enforcement supervisors – I always ask, what are the problems that you’ve seen so far with medical and they just kind of look around, and they just really can’t point to a major problem,” he said.
Huey said the ‘Safer Streets’ ad highlights the need to retain police officers in the community. Part of the amendment includes where taxes will be appropriated, and 15% of the supplemental tax revenue collected will fund law enforcement stipends.
“Some police officers who have families, it’s not that they don’t want to work in that anymore, it’s just that they can’t afford to,” said Huey. “So to have something here that is not just one time funding, this is dedicated, yearly funding to help the bigger departments, the smaller departments, it helps everyone.”
But not everyone is on board. President of Arkansas Family Council Jerry Cox claims there are studies showing recreational marijuana is harmful. He cited studies compiled on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website as references.
“The science is undeniable that marijuana use causes harm to a person’s brain,” said Cox. “For example, the studies have proven that if you’re a regular user of marijuana, you’re going to lose points off your IQ, you’re going to suffer memory loss, many people are going to slip into schizophrenia, many are going to slip into paranoia.”
Cox compared opioids to marijuana.
“We are literally spending billions of dollars to try and mitigate the opioid epidemic and then we’re going to turn around here and legalize another drug that’s addictive, whose entire business model turns on creating more drug addicts, that makes no sense,” he said.
Cox added that another issue is the removal of the medical sales tax and the fixed rate of 10% plus local and state taxes on recreational.
You can watch the new TV ad at this link.
Editor’s note: Marine Glisovic is a senior political reporter for content partner KATV News.