Oklahoma Lawmaker Eyeing Cannabis Legalization to Fill Budget Hole

Oklahoma state Rep. Scott Fegatter (R) has proposed broad cannabis legalization, which he says would pad the state budget with up to $100 million in annual tax revenue.

Full story after the jump.

At least one Oklahoma lawmaker is floating the idea of legalizing cannabis for adults as the state faces a $220 million budget hole this year, and a $250 million deficit next year, News9 reports. The massive deficits are due to low oil prices and coronavirus pandemic related job losses.

State Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R) said the state could “legitimately” see $100 million annually added to state budget coffers from broad cannabis legalization.

“It’s very early in the conversation. What’s important to me is to make sure we have a program that functions. A lot of people didn’t like medical marijuana, and they may not like marijuana, period. I understand that. But it is here and is not going anywhere.” – Fetgatter to the Tulsa World

Activists had been circulating a petition to get cannabis legalization on November general election ballots; however, the secretary of state shut down all ballot initiative efforts after the governor declared a state of emergency on March 15.

Ryan Kiesel, a proponent of SQ 807, told the Oklahoman earlier this week that even after the order is withdrawn it would be “really difficult, if not impossible” for an initiative petition campaign to “responsibly and feasibly” collect the necessary signatures to make the 2020 ballot unless the campaign already has the signatures on hand.

Tulsa attorney Ron Durbin, who worked with Fetgatter on implementing the voter-approved medical cannabis law, said the question remains whether there is enough support in the state Senate to legalize cannabis.

Senator Ron Sharp (R) told News9 that legalization is “not a very feasible idea.”

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