Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative in Signature Drive

An initiative that would make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is now in the signature-gathering phase. Canvassers in the Ozarks college town need 3,600 signatures to make the November ballot. If it makes it to the ballot and is approved, Fayetteville would become the second Arkansas town to approve such a measure. Eureka Springs did the same thing in 2006.

Directed by Sensible Fayeteville, the initiative would mandate that:

  • Fayetteville law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to marijuana offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses.
  • Fayetteville's prosecuting attorney shall make marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana and paraphernalia was intended for adult personal use, the lowest prosecutorial priority.
  • This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall not apply to driving under the influence.

It would also order the city clerk to send letters every year to state and local representatives calling for marijuana law reform. That letter reads: "The citizens of Fayetteville have passed an initiative to de-prioritize adult marijuana offenses, where the marijuana is intended for personal use, and request that the federal and Arkansas state governments take immediate steps to enact similar laws."

"You know, in Arkansas, if you get caught a second time with marijuana, no matter what amount, it's an automatic felony. That destroys lives. That means you can't vote and you lose your financial aid to college," Sensible Fayetteville campaign director Ryan Denham told KNWA Fox 24. "This is clogging the court and jail system here in Washington County and it's taking away precious police resources," he said.

Lowest priority initiatives have already passed in six California cities (Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), Seattle, Denver, Columbia, Missouri; Hailey, Idaho; and Missoula County, Montana.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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