An own-initiative petition to legalize recreational marijuana use for Oklahomans 21 years of age and older was quietly filed in the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday.
In fact , the 14-page petition calls for an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for most residents and to impose a 15% excise tax on recreational cannabis.
The measure also includes a provision to overturn many previous drug convictions, which could make waves in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.
The Question of State 806 petition surprised state medical marijuana industry leaders, who may delay the measure for fear that it would interfere with the state’s existing medical program.
Chris Moe, the co-founder of the Oklahoma Cannabis Liberty Alliance, sees this petition as a way to make marijuana a commercial crop in Oklahoma. The legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes could also attract more visitors from Texas and Kansas, states where marijuana use is illegal.
“We have a chance to turn this corridor I-35 into a money lane,” he said.
Moe, who helped develop the petition, characterized those who support the measure as a popular group in Oklahomans.
The petition also gives marijuana supporters a way to put pressure on legislators as the February legislative session approaches, Moe said. During the session, legislators will debate dozens of proposed changes to the state’s medical-marijuana program, which was formed when Oklahoma voters adopted the Question of State 788 in 2018.
“We need to present a petition during the legislative session so that every marijuana argument gets more signatures on this document,” he said. “Each sheet full of signatures stops one more argument on the Capitol. One year later, the final result will be a better 788 or full access to marijuana will be on the ballot in November.”
Since, the state marijuana industry has grown, the murmurings about the possibility of a state issue to legalize recreational marijuana have also increased. But the Oklahoma marijuana community is divisible on whether the state should legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
Chip Paul, an activist who is the author of SQ 788, said he was surprised by the filing of the petition. Oklahomans for Health, of which he is one of the co-founders, was not consulted on the wording of the petition, nor apparently anyone else, he said.
The proposed 15% excise tax on recreational marijuana would not be very different from other states. For instance, Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, imposes a 15% excise tax and a 15% sales tax on recreational cannabis.
If adopted, then the petition sets out how taxes on recreational marijuana will be allocated between education, municipalities and government subsidy programs. Besides, the tax revenues would be paid into a new fund. The Oklahoma Legislative Assembly would have the authority to change the 15% tax rate no earlier than November 3, 2024.
In Oklahoma, medical marijuana taxes are one of the highest rates in the country.
Since, under the proposed question of state, people smoking marijuana in public places will be subject to a $25 fine. The petition therefore,prohibits law enforcement officials from searching, detaining or arresting people who are smoking marijuana in authorized public places.
In fact, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, would be responsible for establishing rules on the recreational use of marijuana in public in addition to other reasonable rules and regulations to enforce the law.
- The petition sets limits on the number of recreational marijuana people could possess also gives people the power to grow a limited number of cannabis plants in their homes.
- Any person under 21 years of age who is taken into possession, ingesting, inhaling or transporting marijuana could face a $100 civil fine and be required to confiscate cannabis.
- This petition indeed will make the recreational cannabis law permanent.
- Oklahomans who have been convicted of drug charges that would effectively be overturned by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana could ask the courts to dismiss their convictions also delete their records.
Proponents of this measure have to collect nearly 178,000 signatures to have it on the ballots in 2020.