Advocates look to put adult-use legalization on the ballot in 2022
Last update: January 18, 2022
A group of legalization proponents kicked off 2022 by filing statutory ballot initiative language to legalize cannabis for adults in Oklahoma later this year. The measure would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis in addition to cultivating up to six mature cannabis plants in their homes.
If approved, the ballot question would establish a 15% tax on cannabis sales, with revenues directed to education programs, substance misuse treatment services, and the state’s general fund. The initiative also contains provisions to protect parental rights of cannabis consumers and a process to facilitate the expungement of past convictions for cannabis offenses.
Once approved for circulation, backers of the initiative will need to collect 94,911 verified voter signatures from Oklahomans within a 90-day window. A separate group of activists has also filed a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis, which will require roughly 178,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
During the spring months of 2022, the Oklahoma Legislature is expected to consider a number of bills that would affect the existing medical cannabis program in the state, which was enacted thanks to a 2018 ballot initiative approved by voters.
On June 26, 2018, Oklahoma voters legalized medical cannabis! Since then, the state has become the quickest in the nation to fully implement an effective medical cannabis law.
About two months later, the health department began accepting applications from patients, caregivers, and prospective medical cannabis businesses. Licensed medical marijuana patients and caregivers are allowed to possess and grow limited amounts of cannabis and to purchase cannabis from regulated businesses. (You can read our summary of SQ 788 here.) The first sales began about a month later.
Two years after enactment, Oklahoma’s program is already one of the largest in the nation. As of September 2020, the Medical Marijuana Authority had issued licenses to over 342,000 patients and over 9,400 medical cannabis businesses.
Oklahoma City decriminalizes possession; ask state lawmakers to follow suit
On September 24, 2018, the Oklahoma City Council approved reducing the penalty for simple possession of cannabis to a fine of up to $400. Until the new law took effect on October 26, 2018, the maximum fine for possession was $1,200 and six months of jail time. Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty recommended the ordinance, explaining it would keep the city safer by allowing officers to stay on the streets.
Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of cannabis wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.