While the state’s medical cannabis program is still going strong, Oklahoma voters don’t seem ready for recreational cannabis just yet.
Earlier this week, voters had their say on Oklahoma State Question 820, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
More than 164,000 signatures were turned in to get the question on the November 2022 ballot, nearly double what was necessary. But there were various delays and challenges so the question didn’t appear. In October last year, Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive proclamation calling for a special election on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 on the issue.
A successful yes vote would have endorsed legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older, allowing them to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six mature marijuana plants, and up to six seedlings. A yes vote would have also endorsed a tax on retail marijuana sales of 15%.
But 61.81% voters said no.
Governor Stitt wasn’t a big fan of recreational cannabis becoming legal in his state. Following the vote, he commented:
“I believe this is the best thing to keep our kids safe and for our state as a whole,” he stated. “Oklahoma is a law and order state. I remain committed to protecting Oklahomans and my administration will continue to hold bad actors accountable and crack down on illegal marijuana operations in our state.”
While recreational marijuana is no go for now, the state’s medical cannabis program powers on.
Oklahoma voters passed State Question 788 in June 2018, legalising the licensed use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It wasn’t long after that medical cannabis was available, with Oklahoma’s first dispensary opening its doors later that year.
With a wide range of qualifying conditions, the program quickly grew.
According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), there were more than 369,000 registered patients in the state as at last month, 7,078 growers and 2,877 dispensaries. As well as helping patients, Oklahoma’s program has proved to be very beneficial for the state’s coffers, with patients paying a 7% excise tax when buying medical marijuana from a dispensary. In FY 2022, this brought in more than $60 million, and between July 2022 and January this year, more than $30 million.