Collected recreational marijuana signatures delivered, awaiting final number

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A pro-cannabis group has delivered their collected signatures for a recreational marijuana petition.

The signatures for State Question 797 on recreational marijuana and State Question 796 were collected by the Tulsa-based group Green the Vote and delivered to the office of the Oklahoma Secretary of State on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the group admitted to inflating the number of signatures they collected. The group reported surpassing the 124,000 signature requirement for recreational marijuana though, as of Wednesday, Green the Vote president Isaac Caviness said they have secured about 85,000.

“I knew the number was way in the beginning, but I was under the impression that we were coming back into line with our numbers and I guess when our office manager realized we weren’t in line with our numbers was when she walked out and dumped this mess on me to figure out,” Caviness said Wednesday. “Me, as the leader of Green the Vote, that responsibility falls on my shoulders. I didn’t have the checks and balances in place that needed to be had, and that was my fault. I let myself get spread too thin — doing everything that I’ve been doing, and it did get out of control.”

John Frasure, a volunteer with Green the Vote, said he expects the final numbers on how many signatures they actually collected within two or three weeks.

Caviness told News 4, he remains optimistic at the possibility of securing enough signatures.

“People have been pulling up in the rain, dropping off petitions signing the petitions and everything,” he said. “I’ve literally been at a 24-hour petition site working 24 hours day since last Thursday. If that’s not enough dedication for anybody, I don’t have more to give. 24 hours a day is all I’ve got. I’m exhausted. I’m completely, totally exhausted, and it’s not just from mental stress. It’s from physically being awake for 48, 72 hours… getting 15 minutes of sleep at a time.”

Inside the capitol, lawmakers on a working group for medical marijuana met for their third weekly meeting. The group is tasked with recommending a permanent framework to implement State Question 788, inviting the Oklahoma State Department of Health for a presentation on Wednesday.

Interim Commissioner Tom Bates said there were three specific areas the agency had concerns over which were not addressed until the state question which was approved by voters in June: laboratory testing, recall requirements for commercial entities and packaging/labeling.

“We stand ready to implement it as it’s written, but all of us need to know that, if we implement it as written, there are certain gaps in it that we can’t fix by rule and we’re going to have to live with those gaps,” Bates said.

Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami asked Bates if he had an opinion on whether the issues could wait until the regular session in February to be addressed.

“The only way to insure there isn’t a gap of time where these practices could get away from us is to have some type of special session yes,” Bates said. “I’ve never felt like it was my role as the Commissioner of Health to come over and jump up and down and stomp my feet and demand special session. That’s your role, and that’s the decision for you to make.”

OSDH officials said they expect to receive about 80,000 applications for medical marijuana licenses in the program’s first year.

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