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Oklahoma is Taking a Second Shot at Legalizing Recreational Cannabis


Activists in Oklahoma recently filed a petition with the Secretary of State’s office with the intention to give voters the chance to legalize recreational cannabis. State Question 806 would allow adults 21 and older to use cannabis, as well as regulate the commercial cultivation, production and sale of the plant. This isn’t the first time that such an initiative has been proposed; previously State Question 797 was intended to be amendment before voters, but get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. SQ806 seeks to do the same. But, this time around, activists believe they can get the signatures needed. 

The grassroots campaign filed without seeking guidance from the successful Question 788 campaigners – Oklahomans for Health –  or other legalization activist groups or lawmakers. Their 14-page document not only outlines quantity limits and a 15 percent excise tax, but it also specifies exactly where those taxes will go. The initiative also maintains laws against impaired driving, distribution or use by anyone under the age of 21 and wouldn’t prevent employers from restricting use by employees. 

“Other states have successfully legalized marijuana, and Oklahoma would greatly benefit from this change in policy as well. Our state is ready for this common-sense approach. We can remove marijuana from the unregulated market and put it behind the counters of regulated businesses,” campaign manager Michelle Tilley said.

If passed, the amendment would rename the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to just the Oklahoma Marijuana Authority (OMA), which would regulate both industries. They would be the ones to determine regulations on public use and other issues, within reason. There would be a $25 fine for using cannabis in public where it isn’t allowed, but the proposed amendment protects those smoking in places where the OMA has declared that it’s permitted. 

Typical limits on how much cannabis one person can have on them at one time and limitations on the number of plants that can be grown at home are also included in the petition. Anyone under 21 years old will be fined $100 as a civil penalty and would have to hand over their marijuana. The bill also nullifies all previous marijuana convictions if their charge is no longer relevant under the new laws, allowing people to petition the court system to have their record cleared or expunged. 

The campaign is currently waiting on the Secretary of State to give them the go ahead to start collecting signatures. From the date they can start they will have 90 days to gather a total of 178,000 signatures, which usually means collecting at least an extra couple thousand signatures to make up for those that are eventually deemed invalid. If they manage to get those signatures, the question will be presented to voters in the 2020 election.