Marijuana reform advocates hope Oklahoma will live up to its nickname – the Sooner State – by becoming the first U.S. jurisdiction to both legalize cannabis for personal use and allow it to be exported as a cash crop.
In the best-case scenario for pro-pot campaigners, there will be two initiatives on the November ballot: One that would allow medical marijuana and another more far-reaching initiative that would comprehensively dismantle status quo pot policies.
The medical marijuana initiative is further along. On May 18 supporters will begin collecting the required 155,216 signatures for ballot access – if opponents do not file a challenge with the state’s supreme court.
The outright legalization initiative is currently being finalized and its backers – led by state Sen. Connie Johnson, a Democrat – hope to file it with the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office as early as Friday.
“There is quiet, silent support, not only because our laws are ridiculous but because people either have used it or know someone who has, and all of the doomsday expectations just are not true,” says Johnson.
If the initiative makes the ballot and wins approval by voters it would legalize possession of 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use by adults 21 and older – or 1.5 ounces for doctor-approved medical use. It would allow residents to grow six plants at home.
The initiative would also reduce penalties for people possessing more than 1 ounce and for adults aged 18-21 by erasing from the books a state law that makes possession of any amount of marijuana a felony after a person is convicted of a first offense.
Localities would be able to regulate the location of recreational marijuana stores, but unlike Colorado’s legalization law they would not be allowed to block stores altogether. Unlike Washington state’s legalization law, residents will be able to give – but not sell – pot to friends.