Oklahoma activists file new 2022 marijuana legalization vote initiative with support from national group

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Oklahoma marijuana activists on Tuesday tabled another marijuana legalization initiative that they hope to present to voters in the 2022 poll.

The campaign is supported by the national PAC New Approach, which has spurred a number of successful reform initiatives at the state level. A separate group of local activists also tabled initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana and reshape the state’s existing medical cannabis program in October – and members of that campaign are already critical of the new push.

The latter measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy and own up to an ounce of cannabis, grow up to six mature plants and six seeds for personal use. The current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is said to be responsible for regulating the program and issuing licenses to operate cannabis.

A 15 percent excise tax would be imposed on adult-use marijuana products, with the proceeds going to an “Oklahoma Marijuana Income Trust Fund.”

The funds would first cover the costs of administering the program and the remainder would be distributed among the municipalities where the sales took place (10%), the State Judicial Revolving Fund (10%), the general fund (30%), public scholarships (30 percent), and grants for programs involved in drug treatment and prevention (20 percent).

“The goal of SQ 820 is to regulate the production, testing and sale of cannabis products to adults 21 years of age and older in Oklahoma through a responsible system that ensures safety standards and health, ”fan Michelle Tilley told Marijuana Moment. “It’s time for Oklahoma to stop criminalizing people for petty marijuana-related offenses and spend more money on education and health care. This is what this initiative will do.

Persons serving a prison sentence for activities made legal under the measure could “file a request for conviction, for annulment of the conviction and dismissal, or for modification of the judgment and the sentence”. Those who have already served their sentence for such a conviction could also apply to the courts for a de-listing.

Several consumer protections are incorporated into the proposal. Parents could not be “denied custody, visits or parenting time with a minor child” simply for acting in accordance with the law, for example.

People “on parole, probation or other state control, or released pending trial or other hearing” could not have their status revoked or be otherwise punished for carrying out activities rendered. legal under the measure.

“No behavior targeted and authorized by this law should constitute the basis of a detention, a search or an arrest”, indicates the text of the initiative. Additionally, unless law enforcement is investigating impaired driving, the smell of marijuana, possession or suspected possession “should not individually or in combination with each other constitute a reasonably articulated suspicion of a crime ”.

Public assistance could not be denied to persons acting in accordance with the law, unless federal policy required it.

The measure also states that the state or local government cannot deny people the right to own or purchase firearms and ammunition solely on the basis of legal marijuana-related activities.

The initiative further includes penalties for violating certain provisions relating to the display of marijuana plants, smoking or vaping in public, possession by minors and possession exceeding the limit.

Within 90 days of the effective date, regulators are expected to develop rules on licensing, quality control, testing, labeling, packaging, safety, advertising and more.

“The Authority should, to the extent possible, maintain its regulation of adult-use licensees consistent with its regulation of commercial marijuana for medical purposes licensees, except as necessary to differentiate differences in status between marijuana medical and marijuana for adult use, ”says the initiative.

Local governments could “regulate when, where and how adult business licensees operate … as long as these regulations are not unduly onerous.” However, they could not limit the number of marijuana businesses, or ban them outright, within their borders.

“SQ 820 proposes a legislative change, not a proposed constitutional amendment. Marijuana policy is always evolving and the Oklahoma legislature has shown it is ready to deal with issues as they arise, ”Tilley said. Whether it’s a change in federal law or a still unanticipated development in Oklahoma, lawmakers won’t have to change the constitution to respond.

Because the proposal is statutory rather than constitutional, there is a lower signing threshold to qualify for the ballot. They will have to collect 94,911 valid signatures from registered voters within 90 days to proceed with the 2022 poll.

While this proposal and one of the separate constitutional amendments supported by Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) seek to legalize marijuana for adults, there are a few differences.

ORCA argued on Wednesday that the New Approach initiative includes excessive licensing requirements and regulations and a lack of funds to facilitate write-offs of previous cannabis convictions.

According to ORCA’s proposal, adults 21 and older could own up to eight ounces of marijuana that they buy from retailers, as well as all the cannabis they produce by growing up to 12 plants for their use. staff.

Sales of marijuana would also be subject to a 15 percent excise tax. Taxpayer money would cover implementation costs first, then split to support water-related infrastructure, people with disabilities, drug treatment, law enforcement training, research on cannabis, etc.

The measure also provides avenues of conviction and expungement for those convicted of marijuana.

Oklahoma voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis in the 2018 poll. Unlike many national medical marijuana programs, it does not require patients to have specific eligibility requirements; doctors can recommend cannabis for any condition they deem appropriate.

OCRA’s separate measure on medical cannabis would establish the Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission (OSCC) to oversee all areas of the medical marijuana system. It temporarily maintains a seven percent excise tax on medical cannabis sales, with revenues supporting marijuana research, rural impact and urban waste remediation, agricultural development, intervention programs in mental health, addiction treatment and more.

At the same time, the group’s initiative on adult use calls for a gradual decrease in the tax on medical marijuana, which would reach zero percent within a year of its enactment. Additionally, within 60 days of enactment, existing state medical cannabis dispensaries would be permitted to sell in the recreational market.

Activists in Oklahoma had previously tried to call a measure legalization for the 2020 poll. They filed a petition to legalize cannabis for adult use in December 2019, but the collection of signatures failed in part due to delays. procedure and the coronavirus pandemic.

Activists will need to collect at least 177,958 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify these two initiatives for the ballot.

Read the text of Oklahoma’s new marijuana legalization initiative below:

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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