There are currently three ballot initiatives and dozens of marijuana-related bills pending in Oklahoma.
Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA), the same group responsible for drafting the successful 2018 medical initiative, is seeking to place two initiatives on the ballot this fall.
- SQ 818, known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Act, seeks to expand and revise the state’s medical cannabis program. The measure establishes a new state agency, the Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission (OSCC), to replace the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and oversee all responsibilities specific to marijuana and hemp. It replaces existing excise taxes on medical cannabis products with a 7 percent retail tax, with revenue supporting marijuana research, rural impact and urban waste remediation, agriculture development, mental health response programs, substance misuse treatment, and more.
- SQ 819, known as the Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act, legalizes the possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana for those aged 21 and older. Adults may either purchase cannabis from state-licensed retailers or home cultivate up to 12 plants of cannabis. (Those who grow at home may legally possess the total yield of their plants). Retail marijuana sales would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax, and the initiative outlines a number of state programs that would receive partial revenue from those taxes, including water-related infrastructure, people with disabilities, substance misuse treatment, law enforcement training, cannabis research and more. Additionally, the measure creates pathways for resentencing and expungements for those with marijuana convictions.
Both of these measures are constitutional amendments, meaning activists will need to collect at least 177,958 valid signatures from registered voters for each initiative in order to qualify them for the ballot.
Additionally, the group New Approach PAC has filed another separate initiative which also seeks to legalize marijuana. SQ 820 allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to grow up to six mature plants for personal use. The current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses. A 15 percent excise tax would be imposed on adult-use marijuana products, with revenue going to an “Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund.” The funds would first cover the cost of administering the program and the rest would be divided between municipalities where the sales occurred (10 percent), the State Judicial Revolving Fund (10 percent), the general fund (30 percent), public education grants (30 percent) and grants for programs involved in substance misuse treatment and prevention (20 percent).
Because this proposal is statutory rather than constitutional, fewer signatures (94,911) are necessary to qualify it for the ballot.
Currently, all three efforts are responding to legal challenges. Signature collection is paused until the court’s decision has been issued.
“We are hopeful that Oklahomans will have the opportunity this fall to decide in favor of ending the failed policy of marijuana criminalization. If so, we are confident that they, like voters in other states have already done, will decide in favor of legalization,” said Jax James, NORML’s State Policy Manager.
In addition to these three initiatives, there have been dozens of marijuana-related bills filed in the state legislature. Many of these are placeholder bills that will have the details filled in as the session progresses. Oklahoma’s legislative session kicks off today, Monday, February 7th, and runs through Friday, May 27th, 2022.
Although Oklahoma currently has one of the most robust medical cannabis access programs in the nation, adult use remains subject to strict penalties, with activities involving either marijuana sales or cultivation punishable by up to life in prison.
Stay tuned for more updates and action alerts in Oklahoma!
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