Thursday, March 02, 2023

Bates: Vote NO on Oklahoma SQ 820 recreational marijuana legalization

Conservative Tulsa blogger Michael Bates of has posted his take on Tuesday's statewide election, State Question 820. As usual, filled with great insights and well-documented research, his excellent analysis and opinion is a must-read:

NO on Oklahoma SQ 820 recreational marijuana legalization
(full article here)

All of Oklahoma's voters have an election on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. The only thing on the ballot is State Question 820, which would enact a law to legalize marijuana for any purpose, over and above the "medical" marijuana law, SQ 788, approved by voters in June 2018.

I will be voting NO - AGAINST THE PROPOSITION, and I hope you will join me in turning out to cast a no vote and encouraging friends and family to do the same. Polls will be open on election day, Tuesday, March 7, 2023, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Early voting will be available on Thursday, March 2, and Friday, March 3, 2023, from 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. at at least one location in each county; Tulsa County will have early voting at the election board downtown and at the Hardesty Regional Library in south Tulsa.

In 2018, Oklahoma voters approved "medical" marijuana, perhaps imagining pharmacists in white coats measuring carefully calibrated doses of THC to relieve the pain of terminal cancer patients. Instead, dispensaries with punny names (e.g. "Dank of Oklahoma," "Oklahoma Natural Grass") filled every vacant storefront selling varieties with names that evoke lost weekends and Cheech and Chong albums, rather than pharmaceutical precision: "Maui Wowie," "Acapulco Gold," "Bad Parent," "Gary Satan," "Kingpin Kush OG," and "Terdz," which reportedly smells of "sweet diesel, fruit, and candy." According to an LA Times video report, Oklahoma has 2,301 dispensaries compared to 913 in California, and nearly as many licensed cultivators as the Golden State -- 8,014 in Oklahoma and 8,757 in California.

What SQ 788 made bad, SQ 820 would make worse. Among other provisions, SQ 820 would forbid taking marijuana use into consideration in child custody decisions. This goes beyond removing criminal sanctions for low-level use and treats the use of a mind-altering drug as inconsequential.

Unlike most state questions, SQ 820 is not a constitutional amendment. If approved by a majority of voters statewide, a new piece of legislation, 16 pages in length, will be enacted into law, adding Sections 431 through 446 to Title 63, Public Health & Safety, the same as if the legislature had passed a bill. The actual legislation is contained in pages 3-18 of the PDF for State Question 820 on the Oklahoma Secretary of State website. (The PDF also includes legal challenges concerning the validity of the proposal, petition tallies, and the legal battle over the summary that will appear on the ballot.) Because SQ 820 is statutory, the legislature could subsequently amend the law contained in this state question, but political considerations would deter a legislator from making changes to a question approved by a majority of voters in his own district.

Eighteen Oklahoma state questions legalizing marijuana in some form have been filed with the Secretary of State, beginning with SQ 501 in 1973, a single-page proposition that would have removed all "civil or criminal penalties for the use, possession, cultivation, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, of marihuana by persons eighteen years of age or older." Distributing to a minor would have been a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $100. The petition failed for an insufficient number of signatures, and that was the last attempt for until SQ 768 in 2014, a medical marijuana proposal which garnered less than half the signatures required. Of the 18 proposed state questions, six were withdrawn by their proponents, five failed to garner sufficient signatures, four were abandoned (no signatures ever filed), one (SQ 813) was stricken from the ballot by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2020 for lack of an accurate and sufficient gist to advise petition signers of the full scope of the proposed constitutional amendment; the remaining two are SQ 788 and SQ 820, both statutory proposals. The proponents of SQ 820 also proposed SQ 821 as a backup if the State Supreme Court had held that SQ 820 violated the single-subject requirement of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Yes on 820 - Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws raised $3,229,547.76 as of December 31, 2022, the last date they had to file a full contributions and expenditures report. They have spent $4,183,920.28 as of Friday, February 24, 2003. Major individual pro-pot contributors include Stacy Schusterman ($250,000), Harold Hamm's ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall ($100,000), and George Krumme ($25,000). The Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies gave $50,000, and the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union donated $30,000.

Most of the financial support for the "vote yes" cause has come from out-of-state leftist organizations. The Just Trust for Action of Asheville, NC, which is targeting Oklahoma for "criminal justice reform" (aka releasing dangerous criminals from prison) has contributed $1,171,400.00. The New Approach Advocacy Fund of Washington DC has contributed $750,319.95 some of which was in-kind "campaign advising." The ACLU has donated $570,476.00, including "staff time." Drug Policy Action of New York City gave $218,000.01.

Click here to read the rest of Bates' excellent post at


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