Representatives with the group Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws have turned in over 164,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in an effort to place a binding, statewide marijuana legalization initiative (State Question 820) on the November ballot. That total is well above the the number of signatures necessary (94,911) to qualify for the 2022 ballot.
The proposed measure seeks to permit adults to legally possess and home-cultivate personal use qualities of cannabis while also establishing a licensed, retail marketplace. Those with past marijuana convictions, or those who are currently incarcerated for certain cannabis-related crimes, would be able to petition the courts for either record expungement or re-sentencing consideration.
Oklahoma voters in 2018 approved a statewide ballot initiative permitting the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to those with a physician’s authorization. The state now has one of the most robust medical marijuana access programs in the United States. By contrast, adult-use possession is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt claimed that voters were misled when they approved medical cannabis legalization. In June, he signed legislation into law (House Bill 3208) imposing a moratorium on the issuance of any new cannabis business licenses. While campaigning for Governor, Stitt said that he personally opposed legalizing marijuana for adults and that he would campaign against it, but he also acknowledged that he would respect the will of the voters should they decide in favor of it.
If approved for the ballot, Oklahoma will be one of a number of states where voters will be deciding the issue this fall. In Maryland, voters will decide on a legislative referendum legalizing the use of marijuana by those age 21 and older. South Dakota voters will decide on Initiated Measure 27, which permits adults to possess (up to one ounce), home-cultivate (up to three mature plants), and/or transfer without remuneration limited quantities of cannabis. In May, the group Legal Missouri 2022 turned in more than 385,000 signatures to state officials — more than double the total (171,592) necessary to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot legalizing marijuana. Separate ballot initiative efforts remain ongoing in other states, including Nebraska and North Dakota.
“As in past election years, voters in both traditionally ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states will have the opportunity to cast their vote in favor of ending the failed policy of cannabis criminalization,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “And, if past is precedent, voters in 2022 will once again demonstrate that legalizing and regulating marijuana is favored by the majority of voters, regardless of geography or party affiliation.”