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Second Petition to Legalize Cannabis Proposed in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has legalized cannabis for the second time in 2018.

A petition to get a legalization initiative on the state ballot for Oklahoma this year was filed to the local secretary of state’s office on Tuesday, according to Oklahoman newspaper.

The latest campaign is being driven by an Oklahoma woman named Michelle Tilley, who spearheaded a failed effort to get a legalization initiative on the state’s ballot in 2020.

“This is an effort that started several years ago but has grown,” Tilley told the newspaper in an interview. “We have a broad coalition of Oklahomans—small business owners, small growers, users and criminal justice reform people, as well.” 

The paper reported that the proposal “details a framework for adult-use cannabis, seeks to impose a 15 percent excise tax on recreational cannabis sales and includes a criminal justice element that would make the new law apply retroactively, which would allow some drug offenders to have their convictions reversed and records expunged.”

It is possible that Oklahoma voters could have two marijuana legalization initiatives on their November ballots. 

It is due to the fact that a separate petition for legalization of pot was filed back in October at Oklahoma Secretary of State. 

Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action filed the original proposal. The format is identical to that of Tilley and Company.

Both legalize marijuana for adult users over 21. They also both levy a 15% tax on sales of cannabis. Social justice provisions in both cases would grant pardons and erase previous convictions.

“A lot of this is stuff that has been advocated for by a lot of folks in the community and industry over the last three years, and I don’t see it’s going to make it through the legislative process any time soon,” Jed Green, an organizer of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, said at the time his group’s petition was filed.

“Until we pass recreational (marijuana legalization) we will not be able to truly bring stability to our program. Legalization prevents diversion,” he continued. “Folks have been and are going to use marijuana. They have been using marijuana for many decades. This issue is important to our state. We must put this issue to rest.”

However, there are some differences that can be made between the campaigns. Oklahoman explained.

Perhaps most significantly, Tilley’s proposal, which would appear on the ballot as State Question 820, “proposes statutory changes to existing state law,” and if it were to be approved, “the governor and state lawmakers could modify the recreational marijuana laws through the legislative process,” according to Oklahoman.

Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabidiol would, in contrast, amend the state constitution. This proposal could then only be modified by voters.

The Oklahoman reported that Tilley’s campaign has won the support of “New Approach PAC, which is based out of Washington, D.C., and has spent millions supporting marijuana legalization campaigns in other states.”

Green stated that Oklahoma voters drove his campaign.

“Our effort is the homegrown effort, and this petition (SQ 820) is the corporate cannabis effort,” he toldThe Oklahoman.

This newspaper provided an overview of the current state of affairs for each campaign. 

“The signature requirement to qualify constitutional petitions for the statewide ballot is nearly double that of statutory changes,” according to the report. “Supporters of SQ 819 will have to collect 177,957 signatures in 90 days, whereas proponents of SQ 820 will have the same time period to collect 94,910 signatures to qualify for a statewide vote.”