Lawmakers Consider Recreational Marijuana To Fill Budget Hole


Wednesday, April 1st 2020, 3:03 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck


COVID-19 is having a multi-million dollar impact on the state budget. One lawmaker said the solution might be to legalize recreational marijuana.

Representative Scott Fetgatter (R) Tulsa said job losses from COVID-19 coupled with low oil prices leaves the state more than $220 million in the red this and another $250 million in the red next year. 

“With the current situation with oil prices being down, COVID-19, the economic impacts from those things, I just am wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a discussion in the legislature about a full access program adult use over 21 alongside our medical program,” Fetgatter said.

Under his plan, Fetgatter said those with medical marijuana licenses would see a decrease in taxes.

It worked in Colorado, where medical and recreational marijuana sales hit a record $1.75 billion in sales last year.

“Colorado brought in $300 million in tax revenue and license fees last year in the state coffers,” Fetgatter said. “In the first year we legitimately could see $100 million a year in increases rendered to the state of Oklahoma.”

Senator Ron Sharp (R) of Shawnee said recreational marijuana is a bad idea. He said the laws in the state are already so lax, we practically have recreational marijuana now.  Besides, he said, it could lead to a surplus of pot and an increase in black market sales. 

“When you have farmers overproducing, they’re going to want to sell that.  When you have a dispensary that has too much marijuana they’re going to try to slip it out the backdoor,” Sharp said. “It’s just not a very feasible idea.”

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