Despite a medical cannabis regime with hundreds of storefront dispensaries, Oklahoma’s voters have said no to full-scale recreational cannabis legalization.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults over 21.
While Oklahoma is a stereotypical conservative state, in the last few years, medical cannabis has been making inroads. That said, Oklahoma joins other conservative-leaning states like Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota, which have said no to cannabis legalization.
No Cannabis Legalization in Oklahoma
Oklahoma voting against cannabis legalization is undoubtedly a setback for the connoisseurs of the state. Especially for the young liberty-loving conservatives, who recognize cannabis prohibition is just as costly and effective as alcohol prohibition once was.
Although nearly 10 percent of the Oklahoma population carries a medical cannabis card, 63% voted against recreational cannabis legalization. 38% voted yes for State Question 820.
Oklahoma State Governor Kevin Stitt opposed the measure. Last month at a press conference, he said: “The reason I think it’s a bad idea is that it’s still illegal federally. I think marijuana is bad for young people. I think people need to understand the side effects of that.”
Stitt didn’t expand on what these “side effects” are, nor does he seem to object to collecting taxes on the 2,890 active dispensary licenses throughout the state.
While rural Oklahoma may still be anti-cannabis legalization conservative country, it’s another world in Oklahoma City.
“I feel like we already have recreational marijuana. It just doesn’t seem like there are any barriers,” Mayor David Holt told the New York Times. “Right now, I’m well aware there’s a dispensary on every corner.”
Yes on 820: Cannabis Tax Revenue
The Yes on 820 campaign hoped Oklahoma voters would say yes to cannabis legalization.
They argued that legal cannabis would free up law enforcement resources, redirecting police to more severe crimes, like violent offences, or cannabis production outside the state’s regulatory apparatus.
By taxing cannabis, some argued, governments could generate significant revenue to fund public services like the police that enforce prohibition or schools that indoctrinate children into thinking cannabis prohibition works and is morally justified.
Cannabis tax revenue could also help address budget shortfalls from out-of-control government spending.
No Cannabis Legalization in Oklahoma: What Now?
Because Oklahoma voters ultimately said no to cannabis legalization, some fear police will begin cracking down on Oklahoma’s “wild-west” of medical cannabis.
The state government also intends to make ballot initiatives like this harder to come by.
However, some speculate this is fear-mongering by the left. While it’s true Governor Stitt is no fan of recreational cannabis, he expanded Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program and signed House Bill 2612, which explicitly stipulated that medical cannabis patients will not lose their access to firearms.
So far, Stitt is a greater friend to cannabis than Joe Biden.