AR: David Couch Has A New Amendment Ready For Recreational Marijuana As Soon As Approval Polls Show Opportunity

Photo Credit: Brian Chilson

Could a ballot initiative on legalizing marijuana for personal use be coming to Arkansas?

David Couch — the Little Rock attorney who has campaigned for more than 20 ballot initiatives and authored the medical marijuana amendment that voters passed in 2016 — discussed the possibility with Arkansas Public Media in a recent interview broadcast on KUAR. He has a new amendment to legalize and tax marijuana for personal use typed up and ready to go, he said.

Couch said that as soon as he sees polling numbers that show approval above 58 percent in Arkansas, he’ll push to get the question on the ballot at the next available presidential election.

Couch said he hasn’t seen the magic number quite yet, though it’s getting close:

If you ask the generic question, ‘Should Arkansas legalize and tax marijuana for personal use?’ You’re bumping up around 52-53 is where it floats right now.

At 52 percent, I don’t think you’re there yet.

These figures rely on multiple outside polling firms, Couch said, and are a tick above a recent finding by the University of Arkansas’s Arkansas Poll, which put support at 47 percent.

Couch’s hypothetical amendment would build upon the medical marijuana infrastructure established by the amendment he authored — the same state-regulated private dispensaries would be able to sell to people who want marijuana for personal use even if they don’t have an approved medical condition.

However, marijuana would still be illegal to grow at home, which Couch said accounts for a major swing in public opinion. The medical marijuana system, meanwhile, would still be in place, untaxed, whereas marijuana for personal use would be taxed like alcohol or cigarettes, potentially bringing in more than $100 million in revenue according to Couch.

Jerry Cox of the Family Council told Arkansas Public Media that he expected that such a ballot push was coming, arguing medical marijuana had always been a Trojan Horse to get to legalization for recreational marijuana.

Much more from Couch and Cox, as well as expert analysis on legalization in Colorado and local polling in the Arkansas Public Media story, which you can listen to here.

Worth noting that Tom Cotton yesterday, bobbing and weaving a bit, told Roby Brock that he respects the decision of the people of Arkansas to enact medical marijuana, but believes that Arkansans oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use. We’ll see.