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Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative Turns in More Signatures

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #550)
Politics & Advocacy

A municipal initiative that would add Fayetteville, Arkansas, to the growing list of cities and counties that have adopted lowest law enforcement priority initiatives for adult marijuana possession offenses appears headed to the November ballot after organizers handed in nearly 1,000 new signatures last Friday.

Petitioners turned in more than 5,000 signatures on August 20, but after they were examined by city officials, only 3,385 signatures were found to be valid. It takes 3,686 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.

The Fayetteville City Clerk was examining the signatures this week. Even if only 300 of them turn out to be valid, the measure will be on the November ballot.

Sponsored by an umbrella group known as Sensible Fayetteville, the measure would not only direct Fayetteville police and prosecutors to make such offenses their lowest priority, it would also order the city clerk to send an annual letter to state and federal officials. That letter would say:
"The citizens of Fayetteville have passed an initiative to deprioritize 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." The letter would be sent each year until state and federal laws change.

"We needed about 300 additional signatures, and so far, we've collected upwards of 900," Ryan Denham, campaign director told the Northwest Arkansas Morning News last Friday. "We've almost tripled what we needed, and we're still going. We'll turn them in at the end of the day."

The two-week final push to get over the hump was the culmination of a months-long campaign, Denham said. "We've been working on this since last November. We've been at the post office, the University of Arkansas and we've been going door-to-door. This is a local campaign, but it's a national issue and we hope people understand that," he said.
"A number of cities are starting to recognize what a waste the current policy is," Denham added. "Marijuana arrests are clogging the system and wasting our resources. We'd rather not have an adult arrested for possessing one ounce of marijuana. We'd rather see them cited."

Similar laws have been passed by communities in Missouri, Montana, Washington, California and Colorado, as well as nearby Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Please keep going to include the entire state of Arkansas, I would like to visit and spend some tourist dollars there, but do not feel welcome or comfortable about visiting with the current enforcement hazards.
God Bless...wp

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 3:02am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Arkansas succeeded in passing an initiative by 61% a while back...come on down,the waters fine in the northwest part.

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 2:15pm Permalink

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