Oklahoma marijuana
Oklahoma marijuana

Turning the Red River Green - Oklahoma Races to Legalize Recreational Cannabis in 2022

Oklahoma could join Florida in legalizing recreational marijuana in 2022

Posted by:
Laurel Leaf on Friday Oct 8, 2021

Oklahoma is Pushing to Legalize Recreational Cannabis in 2022

oklahoma recreational marijuana

Cannabis Advocates in Oklahoma are once again rising to the occasion. Following several failed attempts to include cannabis legislation in ballots and house measures, the group has successfully finalized a new proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state.

According to the released drafts of the bill, these passionate advocates also have plans to overhaul the present medical marijuana program being implemented in the state.


The race to 2022 ballot

Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action is the name of the group of cannabis advocates currently working on the two proposed marijuana ballot initiatives. These activists have been working ceaselessly since the start of summer to ensure the new drafts are going to be placed in the midterm election ballots in 2022.

Since the draft of the bill was revealed a few months back, the public has been volunteering for better suggestions to improve the contents of the proposal. The better the language used is, the more established the proposal will be.

On September 21st, the much-awaited announcement was made by the ORCA group. They have finally created and finalized the language in the new recreational use measure.


Provisions included In The Final Proposed Adult-Use Measure

If the measure is passed with the use of ballot next year, it would decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis for adults who are 21 years and above.

The legally recognized adults in Oklahoma will be allowed about eight ounces of marijuana plants purchased from licensed dispensaries. It also contains a provision that permits the personal cultivation of about 12 plants of cannabis by users who are of legal age.

The state stands to make a revenue of up to 15 percent excise tax from legal marijuana sales made by licensed cannabis retailers. The medical sales of cannabis will stop being taxed once this measure is fully approved and running. The authors of the proposal included a list of state programs that stand to get a share in the revenue that would be generated from those taxes.

First of all, the generated funds will be used to fund the cost of implementing the bill. When the profit begins to go round, the money would be diverted to communities in need as well as cannabis research programs. The measure explains that it would be split to pay for; the construction of water-related structures in disadvantaged communities, the care of people with disabilities, and also law enforcement training.

Rehabilitation Centers will also be funded with a percentage of the generated tax to care for people with substance misuse conditions and more.

Another provision included in the bill clears a path for expungement and sentence appeals for cannabis offenders. Those with previous records of cannabis charges which would be made legal by this rec bill will have their records cleared, reduced, or expunged.


Modifying the Present Medical Cannabis Program

The existing medical cannabis program was established when a ballot was approved at the ballots in 2018. Oklahoma voters came out in mass to vote in the medical cannabis legislation. However, the bill that was voted in more or less grants everyone full access to the drug.

In other states, patients must register and also have a specific underlying condition for them to be included in the program, but Oklahoma legislation runs differently. The language used in the existing measure allows physicians to prescribe cannabis drugs any time they feel the patient needs it. Due to this, Oklahoma has licensed more dispensaries to operate than any other state. The number of fully opened and operating cannabis stores is at least twice the figure in California. However, some residents are still too lazy to jump through the low hoop of getting registered as a patient, as over 4000 Oklahomans were arrested and charged with possession in the last year.

The proposed medical bill will scrap out this program and usher in a new medical cannabis agency to oversee all aspects of the medical industry. The agency will be tasked with regulating all forms of medical cannabis, like hemp and high-THC marijuana. It will also be in charge of licensing interested operators in the industry.

In addition to this, the bill will ensure funding is established for medical research on cannabis plants, as well as environmental restitution programs. It also includes a provision for mental health service programs.


What's next?

The group plans to file the final proposals with the state this month or next. Once it does this, gathering the required number of signatures to push the ballot forward is the next important thing. A petition which was filed to legalize recreational cannabis in 2019 fell through due to the failure of the organizers to get enough votes.

To prevent a recurrence of this situation, activists have to visit communities to gather the signatures of registered voters and also seek support for the measure. At least 177,958 signatures are needed.


What are the chances of both bills being approved at the ballot

This may be too early to predict.

According to Lawrence Pasternack, a member of ORCA and the author of the draft initiatives, the proposed medical and adult-use bills are designed to work efficiently in unison. Despite this, it would not be surprising to see legal challenges against the proposed initiatives.

He added that grassroots efforts are being made across the state to establish a full-access petition and a constitutional medical petition for adult-use and medical cannabis respectively.

If passed, both bills will work parallel to one another and may sometimes overlap. Pasternack also said that the group would be willing to modify the adult-use initiative into a statutory change instead if it faces many obstacles.


Bottom Line

With these bills, Oklahoma has now joined a list of states where cannabis advocates are pushing to secure drug reform policies with ballots at the mid-term elections in 2022.

It is important to mention that ORCA is being supported by other cannabis advocate groups like Oklahoma Cannabis Liberty Alliance and OK4U Approved. These groups are putting in the effort to solicit feedback as well as build support in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.





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