- Oklahoma looks to legalize recreational cannabis with State Question 806
- In the year since legalizing medical cannabis through State Question 788 Oklahoma has approved around 140,000 licenses
- SQ 806 needs 178,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot
Last year the deeply red state of Oklahoma surprised the rest of the country when they legalized medical marijuana. Now a new petition, State Question 806, aims to legalize marijuana on a recreational level for those over 21-years of age.
State Question 788 To State Question 806
State Question 788 paved the road for Oklahoma’s future with cannabis. At the end of the day, 507,582 people voted to legalize medical cannabis with 385,176 voting against it. In the year since moving forward with medical cannabis, Oklahoma has surpassed other states on a patient and business level.
After looking at other states experts expected 80,000 patient applications by the end of the first year. So far the state has approved around 140,000 patient licenses. It was reported 3,500 new applications are submitted weekly likely due to some of the barriers being removed for patients. A medical cannabis card is easier to obtain in Oklahoma than other states allowing patients better access. The state has also approved roughly 1,500 business licenses in its first year, a number that took Colorado years to accomplish.
Due to the ease of access currently available in Oklahoma, many believe that while recreational may be on the horizon, it is not exactly a necessity. In order for SQ 806 to get on the ballot, 178,000 signatures are needed in the allotted time, which would be a little less than half of those who voted yes on SQ 788. Finding the same support may be a bit harder as SQ 806 has some issues that may not be all that beneficial to the state as a whole.
The Deep Red Areas Of Oklahoma
SQ 806 is worded to allow municipalities to decide for themselves if they want to allow recreational cannabis. Read Frontier put together a map showing the breakdown of how the different areas of Oklahoma voted for SQ 788. Unfortunately, much of the state remained in the red to deep red, which means they strongly opposed the idea of medical cannabis. One can only assume they will be less supportive of pushing recreational use in their area. However, a local government would not be allowed to prohibit the transportation of cannabis through their jurisdiction or on any public roads.
The petition can also be deemed as overreaching in a few aspects, such as growing. Currently, you need to have a state license to be able to grow and that does not appear to change with the introduction of SQ 806. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority that operates under the Oklahoma State Department of Health would be renamed to the Oklahoma Marijuana Authority. The Authority would be the “sole agency with the power to license and regulate the cultivation, manufacture, testing, transport, delivery, and sale of marijuana in the state and to administer and enforce this article.”
Possession Reduced To A Fine
As far as basic possession charges go, anybody that has less than twice the determined legal amount of cannabis allowed would face a $250 fine for a first offense, $300 for a second, and $500 for a third offense. Anyone under 21 would face a fine of up to $200. Other civil penalties include up to a $250 fine for cultivating cannabis within the vision of a public area or for not having the plants in a locked space. Smoking cannabis in a public place, “Other than in an area licensed for such activity by the Authority or unless otherwise allowed by the Legislature or a local government,” well face a $25 fine. Smoking cannabis in public will “not constitute the basis for detention, search, or arrest.”
The petition states that parents will not be denied custody of or visitation with a minor child based on their cannabis use. Those on parole, probation or other forms of state supervision would not be penalized for cannabis use. Cannabis users would not be denied eligibility in public assistance programs for their cannabis use unless required by federal law. SQ 806 also protects gun rights for cannabis users. “A person shall not be denied by the state or local government the right to own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories based solely on conduct permitted in this article,” the petition reads.
If SQ 806 gets approved it would allow a “Retroactive Application.” “A person currently serving a sentence for a conviction, whether by trial or by plea of guilty or nolo contendere, who would not have been guilty of an offense or who would have been guilty of a lesser offense under this article had it been in effect at the time of the offense, may file a petition for resentencing, reversal of conviction and dismissal of case, or modification of judgment and sentence before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in the person’s case to request resentencing, modification, or reversal in accordance to this article,” the petition reads.
When Illinois passed recreational cannabis, it was announced over 770,000 cannabis convictions would be expunged. SQ 806 would allow those convicted of a past cannabis crime to file a petition to have the conviction dismissed, expunged, and vacated as legally invalid or redesignated as a civil infraction.
Oklahoma Revenue Tax Fund
On a downside, SQ 806 would bring in a questionable tax on all recreational cannabis being sold. The 15% excise tax rate would not be able to be adjusted by the Legislature until November 3, 2024. Such a high tax raises concerns of fueling the black market, which is already thriving within Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Tax Commission would collect all the tax money, which would go into the “Oklahoma Revenue Trust Fund.”
Out of the trust, 4% would go to municipalities where recreational sales are allowed. After that, 48% would go to grants to public schools to “develop and support programs designed to prevent and reduce substance abuse and improve student retention and performance.” This money would be focused on students at risk of not finishing school. The funding would help find alternatives to suspension and expulsion, and in providing “after-school support and enrichment programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.”
The remaining 48% of the trust would go towards grants to agencies and non-profit organizations “to increase access to evidence-based low-barrier drug addiction treatment, prioritizing medically proven treatment and overdose prevention and reversal methods and public or private treatment options with an emphasis on reintegrating recipients into their local communities, to support overdose prevention education, and to support job placement, housing, and counseling for those with substance use disorders.”
SQ 806 can be read in its entirety below.