OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A group supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana in Oklahoma claims it would bring billions of dollars to the state over the next several years.
As a reminder, in a little over a month, you, the voters will head to the polls to decide if it should be legalized.
The group Yes on 820 claims it always knew legalizing recreational marijuana would provide millions of dollars in public funding – but says this report solidifies those beliefs.
“We wanted to be able to really quantify how much revenue and economic activity SQ 820 would create so that voters could make a more informed decision,” said Michelle Tilley with Yes on 820.
This new economic impact report was produced by a national cannabis law and policy firm and the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association.
It takes data from Oklahoma’s medical marijuana sales as well as recreational marijuana sales in other states and projects Oklahoma will get more than $4 billion in combined medical and recreational marijuana sales from 2024 to 2028.
“That is significant,” said Andrew Livingston with Vicente Sederberg, LLP, which helped develop the report. “We’re not just looking at medical tax revenue and medical patients but also adult-use consumers in the state as well as border consumers and tourists who will be taking advantage of a new, regulated adult-use supply stream.”
Some marijuana business owners believe saying yes on 820 would be a way to boost business and create jobs in rural Oklahoma.
“Wewoka is not going to attract Google,” said Mike Ervin with Yes on 820. “They’re probably not coming to Wewoka. “It would provide tens of thousands of jobs to young adults.”
While supporters believe it will bring in more money, critics argue the state needs more restrictions on the industry.
Something one marijuana business owner said he initially had doubts about.
“I think it goes a long way to enforce that and I believe that if those dispensary owners were not in favor of it were more familiarized with the specifics of it and of the campaign that wouldn’t be the case,” said Blake Cantrell with Yes on 820.
This week, papers were filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission for “Protect Our Kids NO 820” – in opposition of legalizing recreational marijuana.
In a statement to News 4, the group said:
“Our No campaign does not think put a price on the health of Oklahomans and our children. This state question puts our children at even greater risk than they are today. Last year alone, 291 Oklahoma children under the age of 5 ingested enough marijuana that poison control was called. And this state question, in the details, removes smoking and using marijuana around infants and children from the child endangerment statute and would prohibit the courts from considering marijuana use in child custody and visitation cases.”
The group sent out the following release anouncing its establishment on Thursday:
A coalition of community, business, and law enforcement leaders filed papers with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission this week to oppose SQ 820, the effort to legalize recreational marijuana under state law. Official documents list former Governor Frank Keating as the chairman of the organization, Protect Our Kids No 820.
“We simply must protect our children.” stated Keating. “This state question goes well beyond the ballot summary voters will see. Just one example is that hidden inside this question is a clause that expressly lowers the legal threshold for child endangerment. It includes a prohibition on our court system from considering marijuana usage in child custody and visitation cases. These are just a few of the problems,” Keating continued.
“The already out-of-control illegal marijuana grows are straining our state’s utility providers and have brought organized crime and violence to rural areas. It is reckless to even consider expanding marijuana access,” stated Rodd Moesel, President of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and a member of the coalition. “To have execution style killings near Hennessey should be a wake-up call that now is not the time to lessening regulation and to throw things even more wide open,” Moesel continued.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler weighed in as well. “Our law enforcement community is just now starting to get a handle on all of the activity around so-called medical marijuana. To go in and pass new laws that further tie the hands of law enforcement could be devastating. For example, passage of this state question essentially prohibits us from even trying to keep marijuana out of our middle schools and high schools because it sets the punishment for underage use at four hours of counseling, regardless of how many times it is on school grounds.”
Logan County Sheriff Devereaux is a member of the coalition. “Every day, we hear another horror story about how marijuana is hurting lives. From toddlers overdosing on high THC gummies, to the prevalence of robbery and murder that has already occurred in this industry. As a Sheriff, it is my responsibility to protect the citizens of my county, with this almost unregulated industry it is becoming almost impossible to do. We as Oklahomans have suffered enough, it is time we stood our ground and take Oklahoma back from this industry. That starts by voting No on SQ 820,” Devereaux stated.
“We know time is short, so we need everyone’s help in educating the public about how SQ 820 will further harm our state,” stated Keating. “By searching NO SQ820 you can find our Facebook page and join our coalition. We’ll have a website and other ways to get engaged soon,” Keating concluded.