Oklahomans will not get to vote on adult-use this year
Oklahoma residents will get the chance to vote on a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis — but they’ll have to wait until November 2024, unless the governor or Legislature schedule a special election.
In September, the Oklahoma Supreme Court settled four challenges to the petition for State Question 820, confirming the marijuana legalization initiative will be voted on by the people, though the court rejected a request by cannabis advocates to place the measure on the November general election. Despite advocates collecting more than 20,000 signatures more than the required number and submitting them to the state a month early, the ballot measure will not go to Oklahoma voters on November 8 because of delays and challenges during the signature confirmation process.
The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the delay was due to unforeseen problems with a new process designed, ironically, to verify signatures for petition-derived ballot measures faster for the Secretary of State’s office, as well as legal challenges from petitioners. The court also noted that traditionally, it only took two to three weeks to verify signatures for a ballot measure. This year’s effort took more than seven weeks.
Now, the ballot measure will automatically be placed on the next general election — in November 2024 — unless the governor or Legislature schedules a special election before then.
Governor Kevin Stitt, the incumbent Republican facing reelection this November, told the Associated Press that he opposes adult-use cannabis in Oklahoma, though he supports federal legalization.
“Do I wish that the feds would pass legalized marijuana? Yes. I think that would solve a lot of issues from all these different states,” he told the AP. “But in our state, just trying to protect our state right now, I don’t think it would be good for Oklahoma.”
Cannabis advocates behind the legalization measure, while frustrated, remain hopeful.
“Of course, we are disappointed that the court did not grant our request to place SQ 820 on the November 2022 ballot,” said Michelle Tilley, campaign director for Yes on SQ 820, in a press release. “It is disappointing that the Secretary of State’s unqualified vendor, combined with rival amateur campaigns and political special interest groups, delayed the process, thereby preventing Oklahomans from voting on this in November. However, we cannot lose sight of how far we have come.”