States have chosen different pathways to make cannabis legal, with voters deciding the issue at the ballot box during regular elections or state lawmakers voting to change the law. Oklahoma will take a slightly different course in March 2023, with a special election held for the express purpose of letting voters decide on whether to have legal cannabis in Oklahoma.
Polls show that the ballot issue, called State Question (SQ) 820, has a decent chance of passing. If approved, Oklahoma would become the 22nd U.S. state to create a legal market for the production, selling and buying of cannabis for recreational purposes.
Legal recreational cannabis in Oklahoma could result in the state bringing in an estimated $821 million more dollars in tax revenue. Other states have used cannabis tax revenue to fund worthwhile efforts, including school construction in Colorado and veterans health research in Michigan.
Legal Cannabis in Oklahoma Never Made 2022 Ballot
Voters were set to decide on legal cannabis in Oklahoma on the November 2022 ballot. However, a series of legal challenges and signature deadlines led state officials to not place the citizen-initiated proposal on the ballot.
In October 2022, Gov. Kevin Stitt called the special election for March. Some of the provisions of the new law include the following.
- People 21 and over could possess and consume legal cannabis
- The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would oversee cannabis business licensing and regulation
- The state would tax marijuana sales at 15 percent
- People would be allowed to possess, transport, and distribute up to one ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana, eight grams of marijuana in a concentrated form, and/or eight grams or less of concentrated marijuana in marijuana-infused products.
- People could have as many as six mature marijuana plants and up to six seedlings in their homes
- The law also would set up a process for state residents to seek expungement or modification of some previous marijuana-related convictions or sentences
It’s Expected to Be a Close Vote
SQ 820 requires 50 percent of the vote to become law, according to KOCO News 5 in Oklahoma City. The news station reported that one of the latest voters surveys found that 49 percent of state residents said they plan to vote for legal cannabis in Oklahoma, while 38 percent said they plan to vote against the measure. Another 13 percent remain undecided.
Supporters of making the ballot proposal a law say that voter turnout is key to success. Michelle Tilley, campaign manager of the group Yes on 820, said that the group is not taking passage of the ballot proposal for granted. “If people do not go out and vote, then there is a chance that it won’t. That’s why we are working so hard,” she told KOCO News 5.
In 2022, voters in two states – Maryland and Missouri – approved ballot proposals to make cannabis legal in their state. However, voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voted against legalization.