A cannabis advocacy group has filed two ballot initiatives seeking to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to legalize cannabis use for anyone at least 21 years old and replace the state medical marijuana industry’s current oversight agency.
“A lot of this is stuff that has been advocated for by a lot of folks in the community and industry over the last three years, and I don’t see it’s going to make it through the legislative process any time soon,” Jed Green, who helped establish the group Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, said of State Questions 817 and 818.
According to Green, a new Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission would take over industry oversight from the Oklahoma State Medical Marijuana Authority, which had itself been created under the state Department of Health by State Question 788.
Green was among those who helped get SQ 788 on the June 2018 ballot, which brought cannabis to dispensary shelves for licensed patients by that fall. As of September, Oklahoma had more than 375,000 licensed cannabis patients, as well as more than 2,300 dispensaries, 8,600 growers and 1,500 processors, respectively.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt last year vetoed House Bill 3228, which would, among other changes, have granted patients a way to have cannabis delivered to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, he said the bill would have made “substantial policy changes” to the law while being “not fully scrutinized” during the legislative session.
More recently, Stitt announced in August his selection of the fourth director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. In doing so, he said, “I am committed to tackling the major challenges that the explosion of marijuana in Oklahoma is causing across our state.”
According to Green, one of the driving factors for the proposal was to ensure oversight independent from the state Health Department “to increase transparency and create a structure that could be functional.”
“When decisions are being made about how funds are being spent, … you have to go to either the commissioner of health or the governor to understand the decisions that are being made,” he said. “You can try to have conversations and be productive with OMMA directors, but at the end of the day they’re having talks that you’re not in the room for.
“And they’re making decisions that are not in line with the industry, and it’s tough. We have all the reason to believe the governor is not going to sign off on a new state agency if it makes it through the Senate.”
Nearly 178,000 valid signatures would be required on each of the petitions for it to be placed on a ballot in 2022.