It would seem that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has found a clever way to block or, at the very least, delay the Oklahoma marijuana initiative, State Question 788. The measure will not be able to appear on the ballot this November due to some cunning last minute lawyering. Pruitt changed the title of the ballot and, due to the short window of time given to collect signatures, there will not be enough time to pursue the issue with the Supreme Court and resolve the issue by November. It is unlikely to pass under the wording given by the Attorney General so there is no realistic choice other than to delay the initiative. This means that thousands of people whose lives could be saved, prolonged, made more comfortable or treated will not have access to treatment.
The Power of the Written Word
The rewritten ballot starts out saying “This measure legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma. There are no qualifying medical conditions identified.” There is no mention of it being medical marijuana, just marijuana. The original ballot title opens with “This measure amends the Oklahoma State Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician.” Pruitt’s version continues to present a very extreme version of legalization that is inaccurate and misleading. There would be no way the measure’s sponsor, Oklahomans for Health, would be able to leave it on the ballot that way. It was an underhanded way of holding up the bill, to say the least.
Pruitt’s History with Marijuana Legalization
Pruitt is known for his opposition to marijuana. He and Nebraska’s attorney general tried to sue Colorado for making marijuana legal, claiming that their legal marijuana was finding its way into Oklahoma and Nebraska. The Supreme Court rejected their request for permission to file their lawsuit. Now he has seen the opportunity once again to stop an Oklahoma marijuana law from passing and halting cannabis from being grown and used medicinally in the state and he has taken it.
The Future of Oklahoma Marijuana
Oklahomans for Health plan to fight to get the correct wording used for the ballot title. This will likely mean that Oklahomans won’t be able to vote on the initiative until 2018. It’s a long time for people suffering with debilitating conditions to wait to get medication but it seems like the only solution. The alternative is to hold a special election for it, which would cost $1.2 million and is therefore unlikely to happen. At best it is looking like patients will have to wait a couple of years longer.
If the ballot was able to be approved by voters, it would mean that residents over 25 years of age could get a state-issued medical marijuana license from a registered doctor. The new Oklahoma marijuana law would allow patients to possess up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana. Regardless of the opposition, it seems only a matter of time before Oklahoma residents will have access to the herb.