Oklahoma voters only recently got the chance to vote on medical marijuana, and now a group of activists called ‘Green the Vote’ just announced that they have reached their signature goal with the hopes of putting recreational cannabis on the November ballot. The group collected a total of 132,527 signatures, which were turned in on Sunday, July 29th; they need 123,724 for State Question 797 to qualify for the ballot.
The ballot initiative, if passed by voters, would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess, use, grow and sell marijuana. State Question 797 would also allow cannabis to be classified as an herbal drug and would have it regulated by the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission. Unlike State Question 788 which legalized medical marijuana, this ballot initiative would create a Constitutional Amendment, which would be much harder for legislators to make changes to after it is passed by voters.
However, there is a good chance that even though they have met their goal by the deadline, their ballot measure won’t be put before voters until the 2020 election cycle. This happened before, as State Question 788 turned in their petition signatures prior to the 2016 presidential election and had to wait until this year’s midterm election to be put before voters – and due to a lengthy approval process, State Question 797 is likely to see the same delays.
“I can’t say it’s impossible,” Secretary of State James Williamson told KOCO in mid-July. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but it’s extremely unlikely.”
Now that the signatures have been turned in they must first be validated. Once it has been determined that the minimum number of signatures qualify, the Supreme Court must then certify that there is a sufficient number of signatures. Only then will the initiative be subject to a 10-day notification process, giving the public a chance to protest and file objections to the signature count. For this measure to be placed on the November ballot this year, all of this would need to take place before August 27th – which appears possible, but unlikely.
“We’ve calculated, and it takes at least 60 days to go through the process,” Williamson said. “The delay won’t be because of this office. It’s because of the procedure itself.”
While the chances of this ballot initiative being on the November ballot is slim, the next election cycle will be the 2020 presidential primaries and fall elections, where voter turnout is likely to be at its highest. Considering medical marijuana passed with a strong majority in an off-year election that was almost two full years after the initiative was first approved, State Question 797 has a good chance of passing – even if it is put on hold for the 2020 race.