OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans wanting to vote on a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state headed to the polls.
The AP reports the state question failed.
State Question 820
On March 7, voters headed to the polls to voice their opinion on State Question 820.
Organizers say State Question 820 will safely legalize, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana for adults who are 21-years-old and older in Oklahoma.
If passed, recreational marijuana would have been subject to a 15% sales tax, as well as state and local sales taxes.
Supporters say the move will generate state revenue for schools, health care, and local governments.
However, critics argue that the state needs to place more restrictions on the marijuana industry, not less.
Some law enforcement agencies have spoken out against the measure, saying it will make officers’ day-to-day operations harder.
“SQ 820 throws a match into the middle of what already is a powder keg in rural Oklahoma,” said Sheriff Damon Devereaux, of Logan County, who also serves as President of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association. “Illegal grows, black market operations, organized crime, even execution style killings were all spawned by the poorly drafted initiative petition known as 788, and 820 builds on that flawed process.”
If the measure passes, it would generate nearly half a billion dollars in new marijuana tax revenue in the first five years, according to an economic analysis released by national cannabis law and policy firm Vicente Sederberg LLP and the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association.
In all, supporters say the state would generate more than $821 million in total marijuana tax revenue, including medical and recreational use, during that time period.
The report claims that annual tax revenue for recreational marijuana would exceed $65.7 million in 2024. It would gradually increase to nearly $105 million by 2028, supporters claim.
How Did We Get Here?
In July, Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws announced that was submitting over 164,000 signatures to the Office of the Secretary of State.
The petition would add State Question 820 to the November 2022 ballot.
The organization needed to collect 95,000 signatures by August 1 in order to get the measure on the November ballot.
Ultimately, the Secretary of State filed a report, saying the petition had over 117,000 valid signatures.
However, supporters soon learned that State Question 820 would not make it on the November 2022 ballot.
Due to a new verification system, the counting of signatures took 48 days to complete. As a result of the delay, the measure missed the deadline to be included on the ballot.
The campaign filed an Application for a Writ with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, asking the court to intervene to make sure it would be placed on the November ballot.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court acknowledged that organizers of SQ820 “diligently prepared” the petition for November’s election, but delays were caused “by the Secretary of State’s “learning curve” associated with use of the new software and by the filing of four statutorily allowed protests.”
In October, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive proclamation to set a special election for State Question 820.
The election was set for March 7, 2023.
Voters can head to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 7 to vote on State Question 820.