27 .April 2016

THV11 reports….

“I’d like to see Arkansas join the top half of the country for once, we’re last in everything here,” said Arkansas True Grass member Don Lane as he took his petition to file at the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be treated very similar to alcohol,” said Lane. “The medicinal people will get what they need, the people who like to sit down and have a beer on the weekends can sit down and have some cannabis on the weekends.”

According to a recent CBS News poll, 56 percent of Americans now support full legalization of marijuana. Arkansas state economic forecaster Dr. Michael Pakko said the reduced law enforcement costs and added revenue through taxation would put additional money in the state’s budget.

“All told, the cost savings plus the addition revenues would benefit the state budget by about $74-$75 million per year,” said Dr. Pakko, adding that his prediction only looks at the state’s fiscal numbers, not the state economy as a whole.

“That doesn’t consider what the spillover effects might be on the rest of the economy,” said Dr. Pakko. “That’s only looking at it from the state budget perspective, the impact on the economy would be broader and more diverse.”

Law enforcement, meanwhile, says more people using marijuana could lead to more people abusing the drug.

“That’s a concern, if people abuse which, if you’re abusing alcohol you’re then you would probably abuse marijuana too, then we’re going to have to deal with the repercussions of that abuse,” said Pulaski County Sheriff’s Capt. Carl Minden. “We’re going to have to deal with the ramifications one way or the other. They may be bad, there may be good things that come out of it, at this point it’s all conjecture.”

The other component of the amendment would release all prisoners, probationers and parolees in Arkansas serving time for marijuana-related offenses. Both law enforcement and a local prosecutor told THV11 that there are very few prisoners locked up on just marijuana charges.