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ANALYSIS | State Question 820 on Cannabis

Bison Blinds

One question will appear on the March 7, 2023, Special Election Ballot. All voters are being asked to allow adults, 21 years of age and older, to legally purchase and consume cannabis from licensed dispensaries. This initiative petition was placed on the ballot by gathering signatures from citizens. The question is reprinted here as it will appear on the ballot followed by a brief summary.

INITIATIVE PETITION 434
STATE QUESTION 820

This measure creates a state law legalizing recreational use marijuana for persons 21 or older. Marijuana use and possession remain crimes under federal law. The export of marijuana from Oklahoma is prohibited. The law will have a fiscal impact on the State. The Oklahoma Tax Commission will collect a 15% excise tax on recreational use sales, above applicable sales taxes. Excise tax revenues will fund implementation of the law, with any surplus revenues going to public school programs to address substance abuse and improve student retention (30%), the General Revenue fund (30%), drug addiction treatment programs (20%), courts (10%), and local governments (10%). The law limits certain marijuana-related conduct and establishes quantity limits, safety standards, restrictions, and penalties for violations. A local government may prohibit or restrict recreational marijuana use on the property of the local government and regulate the time, place and manner of the operation of the marijuana businesses within its boundaries. However, a local government may not limit the number of, or completely prohibit, such businesses. Persons who occupy, own, or control private property may prohibit or regulate marijuana-related conduct except that a lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from lawfully possessing and consuming marijuana by means other than smoking. The law does not affect an employer’s ability to restrict employee marijuana use. For the first two years, marijuana business licenses are available only to existing licensees in operation one year or more. The law does not affect the rights of medical marijuana patients or licensees. The law requires resentencing, reversing, modifying and expunging certain prior marijuana-related judgments and sentences unless the State proves an unreasonable risk to a person. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is authorized to administer and enforce the law.

SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED?

FOR THE PROPOSAL — YES

AGAINST THE PROPOSAL — NO

A “YES” vote is a vote in favor of this measure.
A “NO” vote is a vote against this measure.

Ballot wording

SUMMARY: After collecting more than 160,000 signatures, State Question 820 will appear on a Special Election ballot March 7, 2023. Supporters had hoped to have the question on the November 2022 General Election ballot but were stymied by the signature verification process. All voters are being asked to allow adults, 21 years of age and older, to legally purchase and consume cannabis from licensed dispensaries. Marijuana use and possession remains illegal under federal law.

Since the approval of medical marijuana by voters in 2018, Oklahomans with marijuana licenses are currently able to purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. To date, more than 360,000 Oklahomans, or more than 9 percent of the state’s population, have licenses to purchase cannabis from the hundreds of dispensaries that have opened in the state.

The state law allows local governments to impose restrictions on the location of dispensaries but it may not limit or prohibit such businesses.

Just like medical marijuana regulation, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be in charge of business regulation. A yes vote on March 7 would allow Oklahoma adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, six plants and six seedlings.

The 15 percent tax on marijuana sales is in addition to state and local sales taxes. 

It is believed to be one of the first times in US history where a marijuana issue is the only question on the ballot. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized the purchase and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes.


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