Marijuana reform activists in Oklahoma filed an adult-use marijuana legalization proposal for the state’s 2022 ballot.

The initiative has the backing of New Approach PAC, a national organization which has spearheaded several successful cannabis reform campaigns across the US through the ballot box.

Another group recently filed two separate measures to reform Oklahoma’s marijuana laws. The first would also legalize recreational cannabis, while the second would overhaul and expand Oklahoma’s existing medical marijuana program.

New Approach PAC’s proposal would legalize purchases and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of six mature plants and six seedlings at home for personal use.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would assume responsibility for regulating the adult-use market and issuing marijuana business licenses. It would have 90 days to develop the rules and regulations for a legal cannabis industry in Oklahoma once the law took effect.

Adult-use cannabis sales would be taxed at 15 percent and these revenues would go toward the “Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund.”

After covering the costs of implementing the new legal cannabis market in Oklahoma, the remaining funds would be split between the state’s general fund (30 percent), public education grants (30 percent), substance misuse treatment and prevention programs (20 percent), the State Judicial Revolving Fund (10 percent) and the rest would go to the municipalities where the sales happened (10 percent).

“The goal of SQ 820 is to regulate the production, testing, and sale of cannabis products for adults, aged 21 and older in Oklahoma through an accountable system that ensures the highest safety and health standards,” said New Approach PAC’s Michelle Tilley. “It is time for Oklahoma to stop criminalizing people for minor marijuana offenses and to bring in more money for education and health care. That is what this initiative will do.”

Individuals with prior cannabis-related offenses would be able to petition the courts for expungement, while those currently serving time for an offense that would be legal under New Approach PAC’s proposal could “file a petition for resentencing, reversal of conviction and dismissal of case, or modification of judgment and sentence.”

The measure also contains several provisions to protect cannabis consumers from being penalized based on their use of marijuana. Parents, for example, could not be “denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor child” for using cannabis, while the smell of marijuana would no longer constitute reasonable grounds for a police search unless they suspect impaired driving.

Municipalities would not be allowed to opt-out of allowing marijuana businesses from operating in their jurisdiction, but they would be able to “regulate the time, place, and manner of operation of adult use business licensees…so long as those regulations are not unduly burdensome.”

New Approach PAC’s proposal is a statutory initiative, rather than a constitutional one, which means they need to gather fewer signatures. In order to qualify for the ballot, they must collect 94,911 verified signatures from voters within 90 days of the measure’s filing.

The group behind the other recreational marijuana legalization ballot proposal – Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) – have been critical of New Approach PAC’s measure. They argue the licensing requirements are too onerous and are concerned at the lack of provisions detailing funding to facilitate expungements.

ORCA previously tried to qualify an adult-use cannabis legalization measure for the 2020 ballot, but their efforts were curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic which made in-person signature-gathering impossible.

About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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