A former Arkansas lawmaker is spearheading an initiative to get a cannabis legalization question on the state’s ballot next year.

Eddie Armstrong served as minority leader for the Democrats in Arkansas’ House of Representatives until 2019 and is now chair of the marijuana reform organization Responsible Growth Arkansas.

While details of the initiative are yet to be unveiled, the goal of the organization is to put forward a proposal to voters in 2022 that would “allow the regulated sale of adult-use cannabis in the state.”

A separate initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arkansas through the ballot process is already underway in the state. Arkansas True Grass is currently collecting signatures in order to qualify its proposal for next year’s ballot. If successful, it would allow adults 21 and older to possess and buy up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home for personal use.

The state Agriculture Department and Alcohol Beverage Control Division would share responsibility for regulating the legal cannabis industry under Arkansas True Grass’ proposal.

True Grass tried to put a marijuana legalization measure on the 2020 ballot but its efforts were undermined by the coronavirus pandemic which made in-person signature-collecting difficult. A federal judge ruled that state officials must accept signatures collected digitally given the social distancing guidelines in place last year, but this decision came too late for the group to meet the deadline.

Armstrong’s Responsible Growth Arkansas filed its registration papers with the Arkansas Ethics Commission to formally start the petitioning process. It’s currently awaiting approval before it can begin collecting signatures.

Signature-collecting efforts to qualify marijuana reform proposals for the 2022 ballot are now gathering pace across the country. South Dakota officials gave the green light for a new marijuana legalization ballot measure, which activists intend to pursue should the state Supreme Court uphold a circuit court ruling to rescind last year’s voter-approved ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis.

Meanwhile, marijuana reform activists in Oklahoma have filed two separate cannabis-related ballot initiatives. One would legalize adult-use marijuana possession and sales, while the other would expand the state’s existing medical cannabis program.

Lawmakers in Maryland are finalizing legislation to put the question of cannabis legalization to voters next year at the behest of the House speaker.

In Missouri, there are multiple marijuana reform proposals in the works for the 2022 ballot, including two to legalize recreational cannabis.

Marijuana reform activists in Idaho are also working on two adult-use cannabis legalization proposals for the ballot, as are two groups in Wyoming.

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