Oklahoma Governor Sets Up March 7, 2023, Special Election for Cannabis Legalization Issue

Voters will indeed have their say on State Question 820 early next year.

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After the Oklahoma Supreme Court shot down a chance for voters to have their say on adult-use cannabis legalization in November, another opportunity has emerged. Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a special election will be set for March 7, 2023, at which point voters will finally confront State Question 820—a measure that would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. 

Read the full proclamation below.

The move cuts into the timelines set in the recent state Supreme Court ruling, which would have seen State Question 820 return to voters in November 2024. With Stitt’s executive powers, voters in one of the most bustling U.S. cannabis markets will have a shot at legalizing a new adult-use industry much sooner.

Not for nothing, the 2018 ballot measure that brought about Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market was also passed by voters during a special election. 

Once this high-profile midterm election passes, the group behind this ballot measure—Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, also known around the state as Yes on 820—will continue to work to raise awareness of the March 7 vote.

"After all the delays caused by the new signature count process, we are excited to finally be on the ballot on March 7, 2023, so that Oklahomans can experience the benefits of the State Question without further delay,” Yes on 820 Campaign Director Michelle Tilley said in a public statement. “We are grateful the voices of over 164,000 Oklahomans who signed the petition and want to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in Oklahoma have been heard.”

At a high level, here is what State Question 820 proposes:

- The Oklahoma Tax Commission will collect a 15% excise tax on recreational use sales, above applicable sales taxes. Excise tax revenues will fund implementation of the law, with any surplus revenues going to public school programs to address substance abuse and improve student retention (30%), the General Revenue Fund (30%), drug addiction treatment programs (20%), courts (10%), and local governments (10%).

- A local government may prohibit or restrict recreational marijuana use on the property of the local government and regulate the time, place, and manner of the operation of marijuana businesses within its boundaries. However, a local government may not limit the number of, or completely prohibit, such businesses.

- For the first two years, marijuana business licenses are available only to existing licensees in operation one year or more.

- The law does not affect the rights of medical marijuana patients or licensees.

- The law requires resentencing, reversing, modifying, and expunging certain prior marijuana-related judgments and sentences unless the State proves an unreasonable risk to a person.

- The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is authorized to administer and enforce the law.

And speaking of the OMMA, Stitt just yesterday appointed Adria Berry as executive director of the regulatory agency. The OMMA will become an independent state agency on Nov. 1. 

“For over a year Adria Berry has been leading Oklahoma’s efforts to enforce our laws and crack down on the marijuana black market,” Stitt said. “Now that OMMA is becoming a stand-alone agency, I am pleased to officially appoint Adria as executive director and have full confidence in her continued leadership and dedication to get the medical marijuana industry under control and keep our communities safe.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt: EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT EXECUTIVE PROCLAMATION by sandydocs on Scribd

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