Petition To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Filed With State
OKLAHOMA CITY - A little more than a year and a half after Oklahomans voted to legalize medical cannabis, a petition to legalize recreational marijuana has been filed.
The petition, given the number 806, would allow marijuana to be sold to people ages 21 and older while placing a 15 percent excise sales tax on all non-medical sales.
According to the petition, the money generated from the sales tax would be used to create a revenue trust to fund the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, substance abuse treatment programs and substance use prevention programs in schools.
Under the petition, the amount of recreational marijuana a person could have would be less than those with medical approval. Recreational users would be allowed to have up to a cumulative one ounce or marijuana, eight ounces of concentrated marijuana. Individual users would also be allowed no more than six plants and six seedlings. Private residences would be allowed 12 plants and seedlings.
Currently, medical marijuana card holders are allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their persons, up to an ounce of cannabis concentrates, up to 72 ounces of edible marijuana, up to eight ounces of marijuana at their residences, six mature plants and six seedling plants. Users would also have to adhere to current laws or policies about where smoking or usage is acceptable in public places.
Petitioners also propose, if the state question were to be approved, it would establish a “judicial process” to allows those convicted of marijuana related crimes to seek a range of changes to their sentences including expungement; keeping in line with Oklahoma’s recent efforts to reform the state’s embattle criminal justice and prison system.
Oklahoma has been among several conservative states to begin tackling the criminal justice reform and overcrowding in prisons. In 2016, voters approved the first steps to lower certain drug and property felonies to misdemeanors, lightening punishments and lightening sentences. The vote led to the largest commutation of inmates in American history in 2019 and removed the moniker of “most incarcerated state” from Oklahoma’s reputation.
Both medical marijuana and prison population reduction efforts have been met with political and public push back. Oklahomans passed the sale of medical marijuana in 2018 with 57 percent of the vote but as of August of this year, nearly the same number said they would still oppose legalization. The poll, run by SoonerPoll and News 9, showed 59 percent of voters would oppose recreational marijuana with roughly 50 percent saying they “strongly oppose” the idea.
The implementation of medical marijuana also became a source of contention within the legislature after lawmakers were tasked with creating an entirely new state entity and legal framework for a new industry in 90 days. What followed was an arduous process of creating the so-called Unity Bill, after the 90 day deadline passed. The bi-partisan, omnibus piece of legislation is still subject to changes or alterations. The current petition for full legalization also requires 90 day implementation.
There is not a revenue estimate attached to the petition, but Oklahoma has generated $41 million in sales tax revenue from the sale of medical cannabis, according to the most recent figures. Oklahoma’s only neighboring state to fully legalize marijuana, Colorado, recently passed the $1 billion mark in June with the total number of sales topping $6.5 billion in the last 5 years. Colorado also saw a spike in cannabis related tourism along with an increase in impaired driving rates and arrests.
SQ806 was filed by Oklahoma City residents Vanessa Brandon Avery and Amy Young. There has not been a date set for when the petition would begin circulating but it will need 178,000 signatures before it can reach a ballot.