Fayetteville Lowest Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Priority Policy Ordinance (2008)
|Voting on Marijuana|
|Not on ballot|
The measure was approved on November 4th, 2008.
The measure requires the Fayetteville city clerk to send an annual letter to state and federal legislators, governor, and president stating: "The citizens of Fayetteville have passed an initiative to de-prioritize adult marijuana offenses, where the marijuana is intended for personal use, and request that the federal and Arkansas state governments take immediate steps to enact similar laws."
Under current Arkansas law, people arrested for simple possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana can face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1000. For a second offense, the penalty is a felony punishable by six years in jail and a fine of $10,000.
This measure is a proposed amendment to a local ordinance. A similar initiative was passed in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in 2006.
This effort is sponsored by Sensible Fayetteville and is being supported by a coalition that includes the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology; the Washington County Green Party; NORML UofA; and the Alliance for Drug Reform Policy in Arkansas Inc.
Because the measure calls for adults possessing marijuana to simply be ticketed and pay a fine, supporters say the ordinance would create savings for law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts. Supporters note that each year, Arkansas spends more than $30 million of taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws. They argue that the proposed ordinance would encourage greater use of drug education and community service work, which they say are far more effective in addressing substance abuse problems.
Proponents argue that otherwise law-abiding adults are being arrested and imprisoned on nonviolent marijuana offenses, clogging courts and jails. Convictions lead to time away from work, hefty fines and attorney costs, loss of driver's license, and a permanent criminal record. A second offense for marijuana possession is a felony.
Since the Higher Education Act of 1998 included restrictions of financial aid to students with drug convictions, nearly 200,000 students have been denied aid.