OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday set a special election for a state question that seeks to legalize recreational marijuana.
State Question 820 will be on the March 7 ballot.
Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court
declined to put it on the Nov. 8 ballot after a legal request from supporters that the vote be scheduled at the same time as the general elections.
Political observers had said putting SQ 820 on the Nov. 8 ballot would benefit Democrats in the election. Turnout for special elections is usually lower.
The court said the state question could not be printed on ballots in time to comply with the deadline for mailing them to absentee voters for the November election.
The initiative petition process got bogged down after legislators passed a law that required the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office to verify signatures in addition to count them, the court said.
“Delays in the process were caused by the Secretary of State’s ‘learning curve’ associated with the use of the new software and by the filing of four statutorily allowed protests,” the court said.
The measure would legalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis for adults 21 years old and older.
It would provide criminal justice reform and expungement of convictions for low-level marijuana offenses.
“After all the delays, we are obviously very excited we are going to the ballot sooner rather than later,” said Michelle Tilley, campaign director for Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws.
“Everyone in Oklahoma that has supported this petition is very excited to get this across the finish line.”
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and independents who signed the petition are ready to start reaping the benefits of legalizing and taxing adult use of marijuana, Tilley said.
Voters legalized the use of medial marijuana in 2018 by approving State Question 788.
About 892,000 voters cast ballots on the medical marijuana question in the June 2018 midterm primary election. By comparison, only about 528,000 voters cast ballots in the governor’s race in this year’s midterm primary election.
has said that while he supports the federal legalization of marijuana, he opposes the state question, saying the country’s patchwork of state laws on marijuana has become problematic.
If approved, SQ 820 is not expected to affect the state’s medical marijuana program.
The deadline to register to vote for the March 7 election is Feb. 10,
according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot for that election is Feb. 20.
Early voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 2-3, according to the Election Board.
This year, voters in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota are considering measures on recreational marijuana.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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10 things that are still illegal under Oklahoma’s medical marijuana laws
Can’t get a prescription for marijuana
Marijuana is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance in federal law, so it cannot be prescribed, only “recommended.”
A Ninth Circuit Court ruling ensures protection for doctors who issue recommendations to patients who may benefit from cannabis-based treatments, but federal law precludes doctors from “aiding and abetting” patients obtaining marijuana. This means doctors and patients cannot discuss dosages, strains or specific cannabis products for treating a specific ailment. Doctors instead fill out a form indicating they have discussed the risks of marijuana use with the patient and feel the benefits are worth the treatment.
Can’t use marijuana in the workplace or be impaired on the job
State Question 788 says only that an employer may not discriminate against an employee simply because of their status as a medical marijuana patient. This means that simply having a license cannot be grounds for termination or discipline. That employer can still, however, write and enforce rules that restrict the use of marijuana by employees just like any other controlled substance. No patients would be protected if they come to work high, use marijuana in the workplace or attempt to do their job while impaired.
Can’t transport marijuana across state lines
Patients who obtain medical marijuana cards in other states may purchase from dispensaries there, but the products may not be brought back to Oklahoma. Nor could a patient travel to a state with a recreational marijuana law and bring any legally obtained products back to Oklahoma. Those patients who plan to cultivate marijuana at their own homes would also not be permitted to obtain seeds from another state.
Can’t get a doctor’s recommendation inside a dispensary
A change to the law made it illegal to post a physician inside a medical marijuana dispensary, as this one did, for customers to sign up as patients inside the retail business operation.
Can’t try the product while shopping
The use of any cannabis product is prohibited inside a licensed medical marijuana business, so patients should not expect samples like what some CBD shops have been able to offer.
Can’t smoke marijuana where tobacco also prohibited
The law makes cannabis like tobacco when it comes to public consumption by falling under the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act.
Can’t give marijuana away
Nothing in the law allows for patients to transfer ownership of marijuana. Patients cannot donate or sell marijuana, even to other patients. Licensed patients may cultivate marijuana on their own residential property or, with written permission, on rented property. They cannot grow outdoors unless the plants are surrounded by a locked 6-foot fence. If the yield of the plants at harvest surpasses the legal amount that may be in a patient’s possession, the marijuana must be either processed or destroyed. Patients may process their own marijuana for concentrates or edibles but would not be permitted to perform extractions using butane.
Can’t drive while impaired on marijuana
Although it is legal for patients to have a certain amount of marijuana on their person, if that patient is behind the wheel, a law enforcement officer will evaluate whether the person is at all impaired. Driving while under the influence remains illegal even for medical marijuana patients.
Can’t possess an excessive amount of marijuana
A patient remains within the legal guidelines if they possess no more than 3 ounces of marijuana on their person and 8 ounces at their residence, 1 ounce of concentrated marijuana, and 72 ounces of edible marijuana. If caught exceeding those limitations, a patient would lose their license and could face criminal charges including intent to distribute or trafficking.
Can’t smoke where you’re told not to
Renters have no legal right to smoke medical marijuana, even with a patient card, if the landlord/owner issues rules for residents that prohibit smoking.