Arkansans divided on legalizing recreational marijuana ahead of Election Day

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:51 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - In addition to the governor’s race, Arkansas voters will make another important decision at the polls next week.

One of the more hot-topic items of discussion on the statewide ballot is the question of whether or not the Natural State will have a recreational marijuana program.

There are at least two dispensaries already in West Memphis.

“Everybody’s excited, everybody’s looking forward to it,” said Griffin Christine, co-owner of West Memphis Dispensary.

Dispensary owners say legalizing recreational marijuana would be a step in the right direction for Arkansas.

“My business will grow immediately from day one,” said Brian Faught, owner of the largest dispensary in the state — Natural Relief Dispensary.

“Taxation will be the only thing different,” he said. “We’ll all have access to the same products so the taxation on recreational will be higher.”

Faught says he expects the measure to pass. He and many others have been preparing for the law to change.

“We expect business to triple, mainly,” said Griffin Christine, general manager and co-investor of Green Light Dispensary. “We’re 10 miles from Downtown Memphis, we expect a lot of the Memphis people to come shop with us.”

While those in support of the measure say they’re ready for the law to change, there’s also another side of the argument.

The state’s trucking industry leaders say they’re already concerned about fighting a trucker shortage and will have problems with ineligible drivers should the law pass.

“Commerical truck drivers are still subject to federal law which prohibits it... so just introducing that into the workforce or into the labor pool, you know it restricts the number of individuals that we might be able to potentially recruit as drivers,” said Shannon Newton, the president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Newton says there are also concerns for the state’s economy.

“We’re likely going to have to pay them more in order to keep them clean and employed within the industry, so our cost of providing that service in Arkansas will be disproportionately higher than it might in some other states,” she said.

But in West Memphis, dispensary owners are still hopeful the measure will pass.

“I’m going out letting everybody know about it and am telling them to vote for it,” Griffin said.

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