Paul L. McCord Jr.

Oklahoma Legalization Initiative Not Likely to Make Nov. Ballot

Oklahoma Secretary of State James Williamson said on Monday that the chances of voters seeing the state’s adult-use legalization question on November’s ballot are very slim, according to a Tulsa World report.

In fact, advocates have prepared two separate cannabis initiatives for the ballot. The first, State Question 796, would codify legal medical marijuana into the Oklahoma Constitution and the second, State Question 797, would ask voters to do the same for adult-use cannabis. Williamson warned, however, that state law allows opponents of the reforms to file an official protest with the Supreme Court, which would delay the initiatives’ approval and crush all hopes of them appearing on the November ballot.

“If a protest is filed, it is virtually impossible.” — James Williamson, Oklahoma Secretary of State, via Tulsa World

Oklahoma State Election Board spokesperson Bryan Dean said advocates have until August 8 to turn the signatures over to the capitol. That launches the lengthy process of hiring staff, counting the signatures, reviewing the ballot title, and receiving a certification from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Even without a challenge, the process usually takes up to 60 days and, under state law, no election can be held fewer than 70 days after it was called by the governor.

Gov. Mary Fallin could conceivably call a special election to address the issue, but this is unlikely as she remains opposed to cannabis reforms and it would cost upwards of $1 million.

This means the 2020 general election is the most likely slot for SQ 976 and SQ 979, assuming they reach their signature goals.

On Sunday, Green The Vote — the group pushing both of the constitutional cannabis changes — announced that the adult-use initiative was just 6,000 signatures short of its goal. Oklahoma voters approved a statutory change last month establishing a medical cannabis regime but SQ 796 and SQ 979 both call for constitutional changes, which require more petition signatures to get put before voters.

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