The governor of Oklahoma announced there will be a special election in March 2023 on the question of marijuana legalization in the state.

Marijuana reform activists attempted to put a cannabis legalization proposal on Oklahoma’s upcoming ballot but the effort was derailed by administrative delays and a lawsuit filed with the state Supreme Court which ensured certain procedural deadlines were unmet.

Now, however, the initiative put forward by Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (OSML) and Yes on 820 will be decided upon by voters on March 7, 2023.

“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,” said Michelle Tilley, OSML/Yes 820 campaign director. “Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats and independents alike are excited to stop wasting law enforcement resources and start reaping the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial benefits that come with legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana for adults in Oklahoma.”

For advocates of reform to Oklahoma marijuana laws, this is welcome news since they would have otherwise had to wait until the next election in November 2024. However, others are concerned about a lower and more conservative voter turnout than would be the case for a general election. Others are reassured that voters came out in favor of a medical cannabis legalization proposal at the primary election in June 2018.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is not an advocate for legalizing recreational cannabis, but he did respond to Biden’s call for state-level criminal expungements of low-level cannabis offenses by saying an end to federal prohibition would “solve a lot of issues from all these different states.”

Stitt had previously claimed that voters had been “misled” by the successful 2018 medical cannabis ballot measure in Oklahoma.

OSML and Yes 820 initially thought they had qualified their legalization proposal for the ballot having collected enough signatures, but a drawn-out verification process led to state officials claiming there wasn’t enough time to mail ballots to overseas voters with the proposal included.

Here’s a summary of the main legislative changes proposed by the cannabis ballot measure:

  • Adults 21 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as grow up to six mature plants and six seedlings at home.
  • Adult-use cannabis products would have a 15 percent excise tax that would be put towards the ‘Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund.’ After covering the costs of implementing a legal cannabis market in Oklahoma, this fund would be split between municipalities where the sales took place (10 percent), the State Judicial Revolving Fund (10 percent), the state general fund (30 percent), grants to programs dealing with substance misuse (20 percent) and public education grants (30 percent).
state marijuana laws