Proposal could cut off grass-roots movements at the roots
Up to now, the big money folks pushing their money making ideas, such as legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and even legalizing casino gambling in Arkansas, have had it pretty easy but, the process of getting their initiatives on the ballot so easily may just be coming to an end.
That is if voters are smart enough to realize that up until now these self-serving groups, organizations and heavily financed individuals have been able to work the process to their advantage and in the end get their initiatives passed making it possible to make a considerable amount of money for themselves.
Let’s take for instance this medical marijuana initiative that was passed by voters in 2016. If we are so naive to think that this was solely about the people suffering from one of 18 diseases or disorders we’ve been probably been smoking dope ourselves.
The sales pitch was to legalize pot as an alternative to conventional medicines and pain relievers, something many voters obviously thought was a great idea.
But, we wonder, just how many of us actually stepped back and analyzed the overall scheme of things. As we know there have been millions upon millions of dollars pocketed since pot growers delivered their stash to the several pot shops located throughout the state.
Entrepreneurs rich enough to foot the frontal costs of licenses, permitting and construction are raking in tons of money as well as the state in new taxes.
Oh sure, those individuals who qualify for the pot are shelving out lots of money, well above the cost of purchasing pot on the street corner or a dark alley from an illegal drug peddler, for the legal stuff to satisfy their medical concerns.
Next year, voters will have an opportunity to support a new proposal that would make it more difficult to file petitions. An initiative in 2020 could create several restrictions such as requiring petitioners to obtain signatures from 45 counties instead of the current 15.
Also the deadline to submit signatures for a petition under this proposal would go from four months before the set election to January 15th. It would also take away the 30 days to get more signatures if a petition is two-thirds of the way there.
Opponents argue that would completely shut out ordinary people at the grassroots level from ever having a change to get a initiative on the ballot. We’ll counter that argument by saying if these grassroots people are that determined to push their initiative agenda they these new requirements should hinder their ability to gather the necessary signatures. It is time to not make the process so easy.
Oh, there’s also in the bill a requirement that would make it harder for the legislature to refer the amendments to voters. Instead of the 50 percent majority, it would change to a three-fifths vote.
Despite what these “big boys” might be saying, this is a great opportunity for educated voters to put a stop to the ease by which opportunists have had in amending our state constitution.