LITTLE ROCK — Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group sponsoring one of two competing medical-marijuana proposals on the Arkansas ballot, said Friday it disagrees with a report by state financial officials on the estimated costs associated with administering and enforcing its proposal.
The report presented Thursday to a legislative committee by state Department of Finance and Administration officials estimates that if either Issue 6 or Issue 7 were to become law, resulting annual costs to DFA, the state Health Department and the Arkansas State Police are likely to exceed new tax revenues generated by sales of medical marijuana by several million dollars.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care is sponsoring Issue 7, which would legalize medical marijuana through an initiated act. Issue 6 would legalize medical marijuana through a constitutional amendment.
“This misleading report is a desperate attempt by a state agency whose head was appointed by Gov. (Asa) Hutchinson, who previously led the DEA and is currently leading the opposition to this patient-led effort,” Ryan Denham, deputy director of Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said in a news release Friday.
“We hope voters are not misled by this intentionally deceptive report and will make the sensible and compassionate choice at the polls in November,” Denham said.
The group said in the release its proposal would be completely self-funded with marijuana tax revenues and application fees. It said the estimated costs in DFA’s report include equipment and personnel for law enforcement, but it said legalizing medical marijuana would mean less work for law enforcement, not more.
Most medical-marijuana programs are cost-neutral or run a surplus, the group said, noting that Michigan, Arizona and Oregon have seen surpluses of millions of dollars.