OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans overwhelmingly rejected recreational marijuana Tuesday. Each of the state’s 77 counties voted no with two of Oklahoman’s largest counties – Oklahoma and Cleveland – voting down the measure by less than one percent. Tulsa County voted it down by a slim six percent.
Supporters of the state question said it would have decriminalized the drug. Ryan Kiesel with “Say Yes on 820” said the measure was not about legalizing marijuana, but about keeping Oklahomans out of the criminal justice system.
Kiesel said 4,500 Oklahomans were arrested in 2021 for minor marijuana offenses.
Damion Shade is the executive director for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
“We’ve made good strides into not arresting and incarcerating as many people,” said Shade.
He said the post-conviction problem was what has been hurting the state.
“If you have one of those old marijuana criminal convictions, you are five times more likely to be unemployed. You are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness,” said Shade. “These are issues that people who still have old, low level marijuana felonies are desperately trying to escape.”
Part of the state question on Tuesday’s ballot said it would “provide a judicial process for people to seek modification, reversal, redesignation, and expungement of certain prior marijuana-related judgements or sentences.”
Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office told News 4 the AG has never said he supports decriminalization, but does favor working with the legislature for a system of expungements on prior possession offenses.
His office sent this statement,
“While Attorney General Drummond is pleased with the decision voters made in rejecting SQ 820, he believes there is a worthwhile discussion to be had about record expungement for marijuana possession and consumption. Looking at the results of State Question 780, it is clear that Oklahoma voters support second chances for non-violent drug offenders. Attorney General Drummond is open to a solution that balances this desire with the fundamental need for public safety.”
Those against recreational marijuana in Oklahoma said the drug was not good for the state.
“We’ve seen the ills of unfettered marijuana use in our state,” said Pat McFerron, with Protect our Kids No on 820. “We don’t want to travel down that road anymore.”
Under Oklahoma state law those caught with “small” amounts of weed, who do not have a medical card, would receive a misdemeanor offense that would lead to a ticket or $1,000 fine. Law enforcement offices News 4 spoke with Tuesday said they enforce those at the agency’s discretion.