Oklahoma Cannabis Legalization Set For a Vote in 2023

Oklahomans will get the chance to decide on whether they want legal marijuana in the state, after all. Gov. Kevin Stitt recently set a special election on Oklahoma cannabis legalization for March 7, 2023.

The decision is a turnaround of events for marijuana supporters in Oklahoma, where medical marijuana became legal – and very popular – in 2018. Oklahoma City even made the list of the Top 20 Weed Cities in recent rankings from Real Estate Witch.

Just a month before Still[‘s decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a request by legalization advocates to put the issue on the November ballot even though the signature-verification process to do so was not completed in time.

However, Stitt called for the special 2023 election. If he had not done so, Oklahoma cannabis legalization would likely have not made the ballot until 2024.

“We are grateful to the hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans who have worked on and supported this state question,” legalization Campaign Director Michelle Tilley told The Oklahoman. “Now, we need everyone to pull together to get this past the finish line.”

What The New Law Will Do

If voters approve Oklahoma cannabis legalization, it will allow those 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis as well as set up a state-regulated network of retail cannabis manufacturers and dispensaries. It also implements criminal justice reform, allowing some of those with cannabis-related convictions to petition the state to have them removed from their criminal record.

The proposal also calls for a 15 percent excise tax, as well as a standard sales tax, on cannabis sales. According to the petition signed by Stitt that created the special election, the excise tax will fund implementation of the law. Surplus money will fund public school programs that address substance abuse and improve student retention (30 percent), the state’s General Revenue Fund (30 percent), drug addiction treatment programs (20 percent), courts (10 percent, and local governments (10 percent).

The petition states that local governments in Oklahoma cannot limit the number of dispensaries or prohibit them, a change from laws in some other states. However, it does give local governments the power to “prohibit or restrict recreational marijuana use on the property of the local government and regulate the time, place, and manner of the operation of marijuana businesses within its boundaries.”

Marijuana Legalization on the Ballot

It will be an interesting five months when it comes to marijuana legalization. Before Oklahomans vote, people in five states will decide on the November ballot whether to legalize cannabis. They are Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maryland and Missouri.

Also, some still hold out hope that the current Congress will act at the federal level on marijuana, whether it’s outright legalization, decriminalization or, at the least, protection for financial institutions that want to deal with the cannabis industry.

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use cannabis, while 37 states have legalized medical cannabis.

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