Grammar police: Arkansas AG rejects marijuana amendment over errors, ambiguity

© Mark Blinch
A proposed amendment to the state constitution was rejected by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Monday over grammar errors and ambiguity. The “Arkansas Cannabis Amendment” will have to be resubmitted, Rutledge said.

"Any person eighteen (18) years of age and older" was one of the phrases cited by Rutledge as problematic. A person can’t be both 18 and older. “And” should have been “or.” 

Marry Berry, a resident of Summit, Arkansas and the author of the amendment, wants full legalization of the plant, genus cannabis. From the seed to the manufacturing to the sale, “all products derived from the cannabis plant” would no longer be criminal. However, even that phrase didn’t pass. Rutledge noted its ambiguity and said such products could also include other ingredients, potentially creating a loophole in other laws. 

"State laws as it pertains to marijuana" and "number of license" were other cited grammatical errors, which Rutledge said incorrectly mixed singular and plural nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

Arkansas punishes first-time convicts of marijuana possession (fewer than four ounces) with a misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine. A repeat offense of possessing fewer than four ounces amounts to a felony, inviting six years of incarceration and a maximum $10,000 fine. That is also the punishment for possession with the purpose of planting and growing more.

A separate effort, the 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, was approved to collect signatures last year.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care, sponsors of the Act, have collected 50,000 signatures thus far and are still working to qualify it for the 2016 ballot.

In 2012, Arkansas voters narrowly declined to legalize medical marijuana. Issue 5 received 48.56 percent approval.

The former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, is currently running for president on the Republican Party ticket. Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a pro-legalization organization, upgraded Huckabee’s rating after he came out in favor of getting the federal government out of the business of enforcing prohibition in states that have their own medical or recreational programs.

"This idea of recreational marijuana, let’s let Colorado have at it for a few years and let’s see how that works out for them,” Huckabee told KCCI while campaigning in Iowa. Consequently, Huckabee’s former “D” became a “B-” on the MPP scorecard.