Last Update: March 7, 2014
Despite strong support for change, most legislators are unwilling to discuss changing the failed policy of prohibition
Sen. Constance Johnson, long a champion for improving marijuana laws in Oklahoma, sponsored an historic bill this year, SB 2116, which would have legalized, taxed, and regulated marijuana for adult use in the Sooner State. Despite a great deal of public interest and media coverage of her bill, the committee considering the bill failed to conduct any public hearings. Accordingly, the bill will not advance.
Late in 2013, a poll of likely state voters showed that over 71% want a program giving access to medical marijuana for patients who qualify. Sen. Johnson also sponsored SB 902, which would have helped establish such a program. However, despite the strong support from voters, the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce failed to act on the bill or even conduct a hearing to allow the will of the voters to be heard. Unfortunately, this compassionate bill that could have relieved suffering for seriously ill patients is also dead.
But efforts to end decades of failed and costly policy in the state will not end there. Please voice your support for an end to marijuana prohibition and ask your legislators to support a system that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults. Also, please take a moment to ask your senator and representative to support a law that would help seriously ill patients gain access to a medicine that is safer than many prescription medications without making them criminals.
Learn more about Oklahoma's marijuana laws
With the potential penalty of up to one year in jail, and a mandatory two years for second and subsequent offenses, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in strict penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. This approach costs Oklahoma’s taxpayers over $30 million dollars each year to enforce marijuana possession laws, according to research conducted by the ACLU.
Based on reports of arrests provided by state law enforcement to the FBI, in 2011, 90%of all marijuana-related arrests were for possession. During the same year, over 60% of all reported rapes and nearly 90% of all moter vehicle thefts went unsolved! African Americans in Oklahoma are 2.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. Check out this recent report by the ACLU on how the war on marijuana is often a war on black Americans.
Please also take a minute to ask your legislators to end this destructive and wasteful policy by legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol.
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