OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new effort by a group of Oklahoma cannabis advocates hopes to put recreational marijuana on the ballot. Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action has filed a citizen initiative petition for an amendment to the state constitution.
ORCA Director Jed Green spearheaded the effort. He says people are already smoking marijuana recreationally, and that all this would do is would allow the state to properly regulate it.
“Recreational marijuana has happened and has been here for a long time,” he said. “It’s here, it’s going to be here, this effort is what the state is needed to effectively enforce and provide for consumer safety.”
The petition has a 10-day window where an individual or entity can challenge the constitutionality of their proposal. After that, they would need 178,000 signatures in 90 days. Green is confident they can hit that mark, telling KFOR they’re going to aim closer to 250,000.
For green, the petition was the best way to enact change because it was too unrealistic to expect it to be addressed by state lawmakers.
“It’s gonna be a real hard lift to expect the legislature to make this jump, especially in an election year,” he said.
Representative Scott Fetgatter agrees, adding he has tried to address marijuana issues in the legislature before but they always die when they get to the Senate.
“It just gets stalled out,” he said. “I think it’s a big enough issue that the governor as well as the Senate has got to stop sticking their heads in the sand in this issue and have a discussion.”
Ambrosia Treatment Center Outreach Coordinator Stephanie Morcom says the notion that marijuana is a harmless drug isn’t always true.
“I know a lot of people say marijuana isn’t addictive, it’s not a gateway drug,” she said. “I’ve put a lot of people in treatment for marijuana so we know it’s addictive and those people have to be medically stabilized sometimes and treated in a treatment center. What we don’t want is a bunch of adolescents whose brains aren’t fully formed smoking weed all the time.”
Although Morcom says recreational marijuana legalization could be problematic, she said if it were to be legalized she would like to see the state lower the regulated amount of THC in state products.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority could not comment on the petition or what regulation would look like if recreational marijuana were legalized, but executive director Adria Berry says there’s already a system in place to regulate the industry.
“We are staffing up so that we have enough compliance officers on staff to inspect every single licensed business,” she said.
Berry adds they expect to have at least 60 inspectors on staff by December.