Legalized pot – a social cost too high, says family group

Legalized pot – a social cost too high, says family group

Legalized pot – a social cost too high, says family group

A pro-family group in Arkansas is hopeful that in just a few weeks, the state's voters will turn away a proposal to legalize and tax marijuana.


There has been a legal challenge over Issue 4, which is a proposed state constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in Arkansas. On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled the measure could appear on the November 8 ballot after the state Board of Election Commissioners blocked the initiative in August. The group behind the proposal had appealed the Board's decision.

David Cox is with the Arkansas-based Family Council, an organization that opposes legalization of marijuana – which more than a dozen other states have already decided to do. He claims voters are either unaware of or aren't thinking about some of the consequences those states are discovering.

"For example … in Oregon legalization of marijuana hasn't weakened the drug cartels, but it has actually emboldened them," he tells AFN. "In other states, we see youth marijuana use and youth drug use increase with legalization.

Cox, David (Family Council) Cox

"If you start selling marijuana retail in a community, obviously you see drug use increase – and so there is a social cost here that we feel is just too high. That is one of the reasons why we oppose legalization of marijuana."

Supporters of legalization argue it would help bring in more revenue to a state through a tax on sales. But Cox contends it won't be as much money as people may think.

"If you study it, you find the taxes that Issue 4 imposes on marijuana in Arkansas are some of the lowest in the nation – and Issue 4 says specifically that state lawmakers and local officials cannot levy additional taxes on marijuana," he explains.

"So, a lot of people may think that 'hey, we'll legalize marijuana in Arkansas, it will bring this windfall to the state, we'll get all this tax revenue,' the reality is the taxes in this amendment are very low and your elected officials will not be able to raise those taxes without having to actually change the state constitution."

Arkansas voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. The proposed amendment would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and would allow state-licensed dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana.

The outgoing governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson (R), has publicly stated his opposition to Issue 4. A spokesman for Republican gubernatorial Sarah Huckabee Sanders had no comment on Friday when asked how she would vote on the proposed constitutional amendment. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones supports what he calls "thoughtful decriminalization and legalization."