The marijuana battle continues; more court action possible | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The marijuana battle continues; more court action possible

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 7:46 AM

click to enlarge SUFFICIENT NOTICE: The small orange sheet at lower left informs voters at the Pulaski County administration building that votes on Issue 7 won't be counted by order of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Is that enough to prevent confusion and prejudice in voting?
  • SUFFICIENT NOTICE: The small orange sheet at lower left informs voters at the Pulaski County administration building that votes on Issue 7 won't be counted by order of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Is that enough to prevent confusion and prejudice in voting?

I'm expecting further legal action today relative to the Arkansas Supreme Court decision to boot Issue 7, the medical marijuana initiative, off the ballot.

Backers of the law have already asked for a rehearing. A separate legal action is in process that would seek a court order to require all polling places to more prominently display the fact that votes cast for Issue 7 will not be counted.

Notices to this effect have gone up around the state, but, as is illustrated by a photo at Pulaski County's central early voting place, the notice is small and lost among other messages.

The point: Voters NEED to know that a vote for 7 won't count. Many people in early voting — more than 100,000 had voted by the time the Supreme Court ruled — voted for 7, but not Issue 6, the marijuana amendment. Many might have voted otherwise had they known votes for 7  would not count.

As it stands, there's a high level of confusion and even prejudice to the remaining ballot issue. I have no idea if this argument will get much notice from a federal judge, but anything that further emphasizes the terrible decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court to ignore the unconstitutional obstacles thrown up to the petition process by the legislature is a worthwhile effort.

The court vote was 5-2. I"m still trying to figure out how Justice Courtney Goodson could vote to affirm removal of the issue while saying at the same time that the law on petititon canvassers that caused the disqualification "impermissibly impinges on the constitutional right of our citizens to propose laws and amendments to the Arkansas Constitution."  She was quoting her opinion in an earlier Supreme Court ruling upholding the law. She ought to stick to her guns.

Oh, by the way, Gov. Asa Hutchinson will continue his war on medical marijuana today with another news conference lamenting new regulatory requirements if Issue 6 is approved. Yes, and when the internal combustion engine came along, it created a whole new range of regulatory needs over the horse and buggy. It's a poor argument against providing comfort to sick people.

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