Arkansas cops and politicians are trying to block an ad that demonstrates how a new adult-use legalization ballot measure would give weed tax revenue to the police.
The legalization initiative, which was placed on this year’s election ballot by Responsible Growth Arkansas (RGA), would allow adults over 21 to grow their own weed or buy it from licensed retail stores. Legal sales would be subject to a 10% tax, 70% of which would go into the state's general fund. Another 5% of weed tax revenue would go to the state drug court program, 10% would go to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the final 15% would go directly to cops.
But despite this welcome source of funding for law enforcement and the state in general, politicians and cops are trying to discourage voters from saying yes to legal weed. The City of Little Rock just sent a cease-and-desist letter to RGA demanding that they stop airing a TV ad that describes how the legalization measure would help fund the police. The city claims that the ad specifically depicts Little Rock cops, thereby implying that the city and its police endorse the legalization initiative.
“Unfortunately, at least one of the advertisements has portions which show Little Rock police officers,” City Attorney Tom Carpenter wrote, according to Arkansas Advocate. “Neither the City, nor the Little Rock Police Department has endorsed this effort. The film footage being used is from training films that were created to attract persons to join the police force. The Department has received inquiries as to why it is supporting this constitutional amendment when, in fact, it is not.”
Responsible Growth declined to remove the ad, arguing that the cops shown in the video are not specifically identifiable as Little Rock police. “As for the ad in question, we have reviewed it and do not see any insignia, logo or other identification of the Little Rock Police Department—or any other law enforcement agency, for that matter,” attorney Erika Gee wrote on behalf of RGA, Arkansas Advocate reports.
“Moreover, the video used in creation of the advertisement was taken from public sources which presented no claim that the video is protected from public use,” Gee added. “As such, we see no legal basis for the demand that RGA cease and desist from further use of this video.”
Carpenter has yet to announce whether he will further press a legal claim against the ad or let the matter drop. But even if Little Rock did manage to get the ad pulled off the air, it's unlikely that this effort would discourage voters from choosing to legalize weed. According to a recent poll, a solid 59% of Arkansas voters said that they planned to vote yes on the legalization measure, and another 13% said they might consider it.
Now that they know public support is against them, more and more prohibitionists are relying on legal tactics to try to stop voter-supported cannabis legalization efforts. Most notoriously, South Dakota cops worked with Gov. Kristi Noem to overturn the state's voter-approved adult-use legalization law last year. Prohibitionists in Oklahoma and Ohio also successfully used legal trickery to knock legalization measures off this year's election ballots as well.
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