The legalization of recreational marijuana use in the State of Oklahoma may open up a world of possibilities for those who enjoy its recreational use. The recreational legalization bill State Question 820 would allow people to buy, sell, and possess marijuana without fear of criminal prosecution. An Economic Impact Study was conducted and found that passing SQ820 would bring in nearly a billion dollars in tax revenue for the state.
The Oklahoma medical marijuana industry has seen an influx of entrepreneurs, with growers, dispensaries, and processors popping up all around the state. This industry is creating thousands of jobs and has become a major economic driver for many local communities. Several bills have come before SQ820 that haven’t made it through. SQ820 was the only bill to be rescheduled from a November election to a March election by Governor Stitt.
The legalization of recreational cannabis would also come with a number of important benefits for Oklahomans including a reduction in the medical marijuana tax and the mandatory reversing or resentencing of marijuana related crimes. The legalization of medical marijuana has already drastically decreased the number of arrests and convictions for marijuana possession. Full-on legalization would allow people with criminal records to put the past behind them and avoid the potential stigma of a felony conviction.
The recreational legalization of marijuana with SQ820 would prohibit cities from banning recreational stores, allow existing operators to have the first shot at getting recreational licenses and the tax revenue would be allocated to infrastructure. Excise tax revenues will fund implementation of the law, with any surplus revenues going to public school programs to address substance abuse and improve student retention (30%), the General Revenue fund (30%), drug addiction treatment programs (20%), courts (10%), and local governments (10%).
A local government may not limit the number of, or completely prohibit, such businesses. Persons who occupy, own, or control private property may prohibit or regulate marijuana-related conduct, with the exception that a lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from lawfully possessing and consuming marijuana by means other than smoking.
The law would not affect an employer’s ability to restrict employee marijuana use. For the first two years, marijuana business licenses are available only to existing licensees in operation one year or more. The law would not affect the rights of medical marijuana patients or licensees.
With Missouri just having passed their legalization bill and allowing recreational cannabis purchases it seems that it’s time Oklahoma follows suit. Oklahoma would certainly be in the running to lose millions in tax dollars if patients find it easier to go to Missouri and purchase without the cost and wait of a medical card.