Oklahoma on Tuesday rejected full legalization of marijuana. Sixty-three percent of Sooner State citizens voted against the ballot initiative that sought to approve the recreational use of the drug.
State Question 820, the AP reports, would have allowed those 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as concentrates and marijuana-infused products. Recreational sales would have had a 15% tax in addition to the standard tax. This revenue would have been used to help fund various public services such as schools, the judicial system and the state's general revenue fund.
Also surprising was the amount of funding dedicated to the campaign. As last minute financial reports show, supporters of legalizing marijuana spent more than $4.9 million, while those against spent approximately $219,000.
Republican Governor Kevin Stitt was one of the opponents of this measure. He was always against the legalization of recreational marijuana and was one of the first to celebrate the outcome of the vote on Twitter:
Oklahomans rejected SQ 820. I believe this is the best thing to keep our kids safe and for our state as a whole.
I remain committed to protecting Oklahomans and my administration will continue to hold bad actors accountable and crack down on illegal marijuana operations.
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) March 8, 2023
Ten percent of citizens have a medical marijuana card
If approved, the proposal would expand upon the 2018 legalization of cannabis for medicinal use. Since then, says The New York Times, almost 10% of Oklahomans have obtained a medical marijuana card. In addition, the state has one of the most liberal distribution programs in the country, with more than 2,800 licensed dispensaries.
For this reason, the director of the Yes on 820 campaign, Michelle Tilley, assured that, despite the outcome of the vote, the total legalization of the drug is inevitable. According to a statement shared by the initiative on social media, more than 400,000 residents use the drug legally, and "many thousands more" use it illegally.
"A two-tiered system, where one group of Oklahomans is free to use this product and the other is treated like criminals does not make logical sense. Furthermore, the cost in lost revenue and lives disrupted by senseless arrests hurts all of us," Tilley said in the statement.
— Yes on 820 Campaign (@YesOn820) March 8, 2023
With its refusal to approve recreational cannabis for adult use, Oklahoma joins states such as South Dakota, Arkansas and North Dakota, which also rejected the full legalization of marijuana. Montana and Missouri, on the other hand, voted in favor and will allow those 21 years of age or older to freely purchase the drug.