Oklahoma’s attempt to join the 19 states that have legalized recreational cannabis has been delayed. Oklahomans were initially scheduled to vote on the issue of recreational cannabis on 8 November 2022, the date of the 2022 United States Midterm Elections. However, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma refused to mandate the inclusion of this issue on the November 2022 ballot since the signature-verification process wasn’t completed in a timely manner.
Oklahoma State Question 820 – The Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Oklahoma’s State Question 820 (SQ 820) was initially submitted to the Oklahoma State Secretary by Oklahamonas for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) on 2 October 2021. This proposal aimed to legalize recreational marijuana use for individuals 21 and older and implement a 15% sales tax on its sale. If SQ 820 passes, this tax revenue will be distributed between the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, local municipalities, and the state’s General Revenue Fund. As such, these funds will be used by schools to mitigate substance abuse issues and enhance student academic performance. Other provisions include the resentencing of convicts for marijuana-related offenses. Under this provision, the recreational use of cannabis for individuals would accommodate the following:
- The possession, transportation, and distribution of a single ounce (~28 grams) of marijuana
- The possession, transportation, and distribution of eight grams of concentrated marijuana
- The possession, transportation, and distribution of eight grams of marijuana-infused goods
- The possession of six seedlings and six mature cannabis plants
The delay in the signature-verification process is known to stem from the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office, which was responsible for verifying voter signatures for the petition. Previously, the office was only tasked with counting these votes. To cope with the added workload, the office paid a private company to execute the process and ended up doubling the estimated time of completion. Oklahomans will now have to wait until the next election, the 2024 United States Presidential Election, to vote on the issue. Alternatively, the governor of Oklahoma could call a special election to vote on the issue sooner if they saw fit.
The Campaign Director for Yes on 820, Michelle Tilley, expressed dismay at the outcome:
“It is disappointing that a few people with their own political interests were able to use the process to prevent voters from voting on this in November. However, we cannot lose sight of how far we have come. This is a big deal. Now the petition phase is finished, and Oklahomans will be voting to legalize recreational marijuana here, and we can soon realize all the benefits it will bring to our state.”
Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (OSML), the group behind Yes on 820, collected 117,257 signatures in July to qualify for the legalization procedure, well exceeding the required 94,911 signatures. With considerable support and intelligent action being taken by interest groups, it is highly likely that Oklahoma will soon be the 20th state to legalize recreational cannabis. This trend is clearly for the betterment of America, as we can no longer afford to demonize and punish those associated with a plant marred by disinformation.
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