OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Tuesday, Oklahomans will head to the polls to decide whether to fully legalize marijuana use.

On Monday, opponents spoke out against State Question 820, while at the same time supporters were there to respond.

At Monday’s gathering at the State Capitol, Oklahoma health care officials, law enforcement and school district leaders who are against State Question 820, focused on how it would harm children in Oklahoma.

They said they are also concerned it would affect students’ mental health and increase addiction. 

“The science is very clear that marijuana and particularly high content THC marijuana is dangerous for brains, particularly vulnerable brains and brains of our children,” said Terri White, Former Commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. 

Opponents of State Question 820 also argue legalizing recreational marijuana for adults will lead to more children having access to it. 

“One in four Oklahomans struggles today with mental illness and addiction and is 25% of our population. It is the biggest public health issue we’re facing… There are 30 years of prevention science that shows every time you legalize a substance there is an increase in usage of that substance among all age groups including children this state question does not do enough to protect our children,” said White.  

Those for the vote and a part of the Yes On 830 campaign claim there’s no way it would make it harder to protect children in our state.  

They disagree this would harm children because it would only be available to people over the age of 21. 

“State question 820 uses the exact same standard that is in current law today, whether or not state question 820 passes, courts and judges are able to intervene to remove children from dangerous situations,” said Ryan Kiesel, Yes on 820 campaign. 

Oklahoma school district leaders are also concerned how it would affect students’ education.  

“It’s affecting their memory. It’s, you know, a learning loss. There’s all kinds of academic things that are happening,” said Jarod Mendenhall, Supt. Muskogee Public Schools.

“We have children under the age of one who, since the expansion of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, have ended up in the emergency room from ingesting. Every time you move for medical to legalization, the increase in usage happens across all age groups, including children. And we have to protect our children because this is dangerous for their brains,” said White. 

Those pushing for State Question 820 to pass said tax revenue would help fund Oklahoma schools and mental health treatment programs. 

“We’re going to be collecting tax revenues, which are going to help our schools and help the very health mental health treatment programs that Commissioner White is talking about,” said Michelle Tilley, Yes on 820 campaign.  

“The difference is, is that they have fewer ruined lives by people going into the criminal justice system, fewer wasted law enforcement resources by having to police small amounts of marijuana and more money going into schools, health care and substance abuse treatment, which is exactly what these folks are asking for. It seems counterproductive to their own best interest… Millions in tax dollars that will go directly into our children’s schools and in health care and make our families stronger in Oklahoma,” said Kiesel. 

Oklahoma law enforcement officials also argued how it would affect crime.  

“Just a few years ago with the medical marijuana that came into effect, we’ve seen crime spiked. If we look at our neighbor in Colorado when they legalized marijuana just a few years ago, how their crime spiked. Suicides increased, fatal accidents increased, where there was a usage of marijuana, break ins, assaults increase. But we also want to look at the effects on our children.” said James Smith, chief of Lawton Police Department and president of the Oklahoma Chiefs Association. 

820 supporters said by legalizing marijuana, police can do a better job of protecting Oklahomans. 

“This will save law enforcement resources if we pass State Question 821… They’ll be able to invest them in actually policing serious violent crimes in our communities to keep you safe and me safe and our family safe,” said Kiesel. 

Thousands of Oklahomans have already voted early.

The election for State Question 820 is Tuesday and polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.