You are here
Home > News > Oklahoma Governor Sets March Special Election for Weed Legalization Initiative

Oklahoma Governor Sets March Special Election for Weed Legalization Initiative

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt stated that special elections will be held for the vote on a measure that legalizes recreational marijuana. On March 7, 2023 the voters will vote on State Question 820. This would allow cannabis to be legalized for adults over 21 to use and permit commercial cultivation.

Oklahomans for Sensible Cannabis Laws (the group that campaigned for SQ820) had hoped for it to appear on the November midterm election ballots. The delay in certification of the measure caused state officials to declare that it would not appear on November’s ballots. However, the decision was upheld last month at the state Supreme Court.

“After all the delays caused by the new signature count process, we are excited to finally be on the ballot on March 7, 2023, so that Oklahomans can experience the benefits of the State Question without further delay,” Michelle Tilley, campaign director for Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Law, said in a public statement following Stitt’s announcement. “We are grateful the voices of over 164,000 Oklahomans who signed the petition and want to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in Oklahoma have been heard.”

The group said that it is energized for what will be a five-month campaign to pass SQ 820, writing that “Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats, and Independents alike are excited to stop wasting law enforcement resources and start reaping the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial benefits that come with legalizing, regulating, and taxing recreational marijuana for adults in Oklahoma.”

Arshad Lai, chief executive officer of Tulsa marijuana dispensary The Nirvana Group told Chronic News in an email that “it’s exciting that the state government is deciding to move forward with potentially legalizing adult-use cannabis after all. They seem to be realizing that opening up the recreational market will be good for the economy, provide greater access to allow people to get the medicinal products they need and of course, open up a new branch of our industry to more demographics.”

The State Question 820: Voting Will Be Upheld by the Public

Oklahoma’s March voters will pass SQ820, which would allow legalization of cannabis for all adults aged 21 or older. The ballot initiative would also task the state’s existing Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority with drafting and implementing rules to regulate the new recreational cannabis industry. This measure includes provisions that will allow anyone with a past conviction for marijuana offenses to petition the courts in order to reverse it and get their criminal record erased.

The State Question 820 will impose a 15% sales tax on recreational marijuana. This is more than twice the rate imposed on medical cannabis sales. Taxes generated by the sale of recreational pot would be divided among the state’s General Revenue Fund, local governments that allow licensed adult-use cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdiction, the state court system, school districts, and drug treatment programs.

Stitt stated that he supports federal cannabis legalization. However, he is against SQ820. Maintaining the patchwork of marijuana policy that resulted in state legalization efforts are problematic.

“Do I wish that the feds would pass legalized marijuana? Yes. I think that would solve a lot of issues from all these different states,” Stitt recently told The Associated Press. “But in our state, just trying to protect our state right now, I don’t think it would be good for Oklahoma.”

Supreme Court Nuxes Question 820 of Midterm Ballot

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (Oklahoma) submitted petitions with 164,000 signatures supporting the legalization effort in July. That is more than the minimum number needed to be on the November ballot. But the secretary of state’s office, which used a new system to verify signatures, took far longer to certify the signatures than in previous elections, leaving too little time to include the question on the November ballot, according to election officials.

SQ 820’s campaign challenged the delaying of the vote. It argued that SQ 820 had met the deadlines set by the state and all guidelines. The decision of election officials was confirmed by the state Supreme Court last month. It ruled that the proposed measure will not be on the next midterm elections ballot.

“There is no way to mandate the inclusion of SQ820 on the November 2022 general election ballot,” Justice Douglas Combs wrote in the majority opinion. “SQ820 will be voted upon by the people of Oklahoma, albeit either at the next general election following November 8, 2022, or at a special election set by the Governor or the Legislature.”

Following Stitt’s announcement on Tuesday, Oklahomans for Sensible Laws announced that it would conduct a five-month drive to push for passage of SQ 820. They encouraged citizens to register and vote by going on Follow them @YesOn820.

Oklahoma’s special election in March to decide on the legalization of recreational marijuana will follow similar votes in five states next month. Missouri, Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota voters will each see measures to legalize adult-use cannabis on their November 8 midterm election ballots.