Group Seeking State Vote on Legal Marijuana Submits Signatures | Health & Fitness

By SEAN MURPHY – Associated Press Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A group seeking a statewide vote on full legalization of adult marijuana use in Oklahoma submitted boxes of signatures Tuesday in hopes of getting the question on the November ballot. .

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws submitted more than 164,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office, far more than the approximately 95,000 they need to qualify. Status Question 820 for the ballot. They also missed the August 1 deadline that they had by almost a month.

Campaign adviser Ryan Kiesel, an attorney and former Democratic state legislator, said the additional signatures and additional time should ensure the question makes it to the November general election ballot.

“I think it is highly unlikely that there is a credible challenge to our process that could delay this,” Kiesel said.

If approved by voters, the question would legalize marijuana use for any adult over the age of 21. Marijuana sales would be subject to a 15% excise tax in addition to the standard sales tax, and the revenue it generates would be used to help fund local municipalities, the court system, public schools, substance abuse treatment and the state general revenue fund.

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The current 7% excise tax on medical marijuana sales generates about $5 million in state revenue each month, plus another roughly $6 million each month in state and local sales taxes, according to figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

The proposal also outlines a judicial process for individuals to seek the expungement or expungement of prior marijuana-related convictions.

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“We created a very simple, efficient and low-cost way for Oklahomans to remove those charges and convictions from their record,” Kiesel said.

Oklahoma already has one of the most strong medical marijuana programs in the country, with about 10% of state residents having state-issued medical cards that allow them to purchase, grow, and consume marijuana. Kiesel said full legalization would dovetail with the state’s existing medical marijuana program, but would allow unlicensed adults, including those visiting from out of state, to purchase marijuana.

The Yes on 820 campaign raised about $70,000, all from two advocacy groups: New York-based Drug Policy Action, which advocates for sensible drug laws, and the Washington, DC-based New Approach Advocacy Fund, which supports cannabis reform in the states.

It’s also likely that a marijuana question on the November ballot could boost voter turnout. Some 892,000 voters cast their vote in the question about medical marijuana in June 2018 midterm primary elections. By comparison, only about 528,000 voters cast ballots in the gubernatorial race in last week’s midterm primary.

A separate proposal that would legalize marijuana in Oklahoma through a constitutional amendment is still in the signature-gathering phase.

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