OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a legal dispute over whether a recreational marijuana initiative will go on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.
Supporters of State Question 820 had sued to try to get the question on the general election ballot. The state objected.
The state’s high court assumed original jurisdiction, but it suspended activity in the case until the expiration of a 10-day period for the filing of objections to either the initiative petition signatures or the ballot title. It was not immediately clear when the protest period would begin, but supporters said it would be within the next day or so.
Supporters say the state constitution requires the matter to go on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, while the state contends that the ballot initiative must follow a process set out by the Legislature.
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Supporters were pleased with the high court’s decision.
“It appears the court is giving itself the opportunity to order SQ 820 on the ballot if we survive the protest period,” said Campaign Director Michelle Tilley. “We are confident that our more than 117,000 valid signatures will pass the 10-day protest period set out by statute and are optimistic the Oklahoma Supreme Court will order State Question 820 on the ballot for the 2022 general election.”
The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment because the litigation is still pending.
SQ 820 would legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana for adults 21 years old and older.
Revenue from sales would increase state and local funding for schools, health care and other services. The law also would provide for the expungement of low-level marijuana convictions.
The measure would not alter the state’s current medical marijuana program, approved by voters in 2018 through State Question 788.
Supporters say the state’s efforts to count and verify the signatures was significantly delayed due to a new procedure set forth in law.
The court’s vote to put the matter on hold was 5-4.
In his dissent, Justice Dustin P. Rowe wrote that Tuesday’s order does not give the state clear directions on how to proceed.
The State Election Board’s process for creating election databases and ballot proofs was set to begin on Friday in order to give it time to meet the Sept. 23 deadline to send absentee ballots overseas and to military voters, Rowe wrote.
“Delaying this matter, which would culminate in changes to ballots which have already begun to be produced, undermines the Election Board’s capacity to fulfill its lawful obligation to voters and threatens the voting rights of portions of the electorate — particularly, our men and women serving in uniform overseas.”
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