Sherwood Passes Public Drinking Ordinance, Fayetteville’s Still Under Consideration

On Thursday the Mayor of Fayetteville heard from local bar and restaurant owners about a proposed entertainment district where public drinking would be legal at events in certain areas of the city.

Earlier this year the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 812 by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover). The new law lets cities create “entertainment districts” where alcohol can be carried and consumed publicly on streets and sidewalks.

Fayetteville’s proposed ordinance would allow public drinking at:

  • The Fayetteville Farmer’s Market each Saturday during the market’s hours of operation
  • Fayetteville’s First Thursday activities
  • Lights of the Ozarks, which is a festival of “holiday lights” that begins on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and lasts until New Year’s Eve.
  • Any other event where public drinking is authorized by the Mayor of Fayetteville via a special permit.

Alcohol may be purchased and carried and consumed on streets and sidewalks using marked 16 oz. cups during these events.

memo accompanying the proposed ordinance makes it clear that this is simply the beginning, and in the future the city could expand the times and places that people drink publicly on streets and sidewalks.

On Monday the Sherwood City Council voted in favor of an ordinance to legalize public drinking in an entertainment district.

The public drinking district is expected to open this fall and includes a large portion of Sherwood, north of the Little Rock area.

As we keep saying, letting people drink on city streets and sidewalks won’t improve the economy in our communities.

Public drinking raises serious concerns about public safety.

Cities like Memphis and New Orleans have had significant problems with violence in their entertainment districts.

These districts also raise serious concerns about drunk driving in our communities.

Family Council has put together a free toolkit to help citizens oppose public drinking ordinances like Fayetteville’s and Sherwood’s.

Our toolkit contains talking points, information about problems public drinking has caused in other states, photographs of public drinking districts elsewhere around the country, and other resources you can use to fight public drinking in your community.

Click here to download our free toolkit.

U.S. Surgeon Issues First Marijuana Advisory in 30 Years

On Thursday U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued the first Surgeon General’s advisory on marijuana since the 1980s.

In the advisory, Dr. Adams wrote,

No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe. Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana.

The warning also reiterated what we have heard others say: That marijuana today is more potent than it used to be, and that marijuana use increasingly is linked to psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, saying,

Marijuana has changed over time. The marijuana available today is much stronger than previous versions. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014. . . .

The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC and the younger the age of initiation. Higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis. . . .

Marijuana use is also linked to risk for and early onset of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. The risk for psychotic disorders increases with frequency of use, potency of the marijuana product, and as the age at first use decreases.  Adolescent marijuana use is often also associated with other substance use. In 2017, teens 12-17 reporting frequent use of marijuana showed a 130% greater likelihood of misusing opioids. Marijuana’s increasingly widespread availability in multiple and highly potent forms, coupled with a false and dangerous perception of safety among youth, merits a nationwide call to action.

All of this underscores what we have said for years: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.

Read the U.S. Surgeon General’s entire marijuana advisory here.