Oklahoma is making its mark in the history of marijuana legalization as citizens head to their respective polls on Tuesday. State Question 820 seeks to make recreational cannabis legal for adult consumers, and in most counties throughout the state, it will be the only thing on the ballot to vote for.
Advocates of marijuana reform fought hard to bring the issue before voters in 2022, but due to delays and a Supreme Court ruling on litigation, they missed their window. Gov. Kevin Stitt stepped up with an October announcement of a special election being held Tuesday - giving citizens across Oklahoma an opportunity for their voices heard regarding cannabis legislation!
Adults 21 and up will be able to legally purchase cannabis from approved dispensaries. It will allow them to possess an ounce of marijuana as well as grow six mature plants and six seedlings for personal consumption. Finally, it gives the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority the responsibility to issue business licensing and regulations for future operations within the industry.
There is a proposed 15% excise tax on adult-use marijuana products, with the revenue to be directed into an “Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund.”
The “Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund” program covers the cost of administrating accordingly and grants funds for public education, judicial reform, and misuse treatment/prevention programs. Ten percent will be allocated to municipalities where cannabis sales occurred while 30% is designated toward the State Judicial Revolving Fund and General fund respectively - with 20%, rounding up remaining contributions going towards substance abuse assistance efforts.
Individuals who were convicted for criminal activity that is now deemed legal may be eligible for resentencing, conviction reversal, and even expungement. Through the implementation of this new measure - which includes modifications to court rulings and sentences given in relation to certain offenses- those affected have an opportunity at removing these crimes from their permanent record.
Thousands of Oklahomans with criminal records due to cannabis possession could see their records cleared if SQ 820 passed, according to a report released by the Yes on820 campaign. The analysis conducted by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform found that more than 4,500 individuals were arrested each year in Oklahoma for cannabis-related offenses and an estimated 60,000 have either convictions or unexpunged dismissals on their record. If approved into law these individuals would be eligible to petition the court system for expungement of their charges.
In the wake of Oklahoma's legalization of medical marijuana, arrests and prosecutions relating to cannabis have taken a nosedive. The impact has been felt across the state - since SQ 788 was passed in 2018, incarceration rates on marijuana charges have significantly diminished.
Recreational legalization has the potential to provide a massive economic boost to the state - with estimated revenue of up to $434 million within five years. With so much money in play, this ballot initiative could be one of the most pivotal votes for Oklahoma's future!
Advocates for SQ 820 have ramped up their efforts to sway the public ahead of a special election, launching both TV ads and a door-knocking campaign. Notably, one ad features an ex-police chief breaking down how current marijuana prohibition jeopardizes public safety.
Tomorrow is your chance to make sure that your voice is heard! Use the link provided to find where you can cast a ballot near you and have an impact on SQ820.