Although it seemed possible that an Oklahoma initiative aimed at legalizing a statewide medical marijuana program was headed for the ballot this November, a report from the Associated Press suggests that this proposal is not likely to appear before the voters in 2016 because of some changes being made to the ballot title sent down by Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
When it was revealed last week that Oklahomans for Health had managed to submit the necessary 65,987 signatures to get its proposal in front of the voting public this November, it took the marijuana reform community by surprise. Not only did the group manage to collect enough petitions to advance the issue to the next level, but Secretary of State Chris Benge confirmed that supporters had secured a couple thousand more than the signature requirement.
However, last week, the Attorney General’s office quickly sent back a rewritten version of the initiative’s ballot title that organizers with Oklahomans for Health believe was put together to “cause fear and uncertainty.” It is for this reason the group has decided to formally object to the new ballot language, which, even without several other variables at play, is destined to prevent the measure from being hashed out in the state’s general election.
At this point, the real problem with getting the initiative on the ballot is timing. In addition to group’s protest of the new ballot language, the Oklahoma Supreme Court must also make a determination in whether organizers actually secured a sufficient number of signatures to be considered ballot worthy.
All of these factors are running the campaign down to the wire. But even if these obstacles somehow come crashing down in the next coming days, the Oklahoma State Election Board says it is still too late for the initiative because absentee ballots have already gone to the printer in order to make the federally mandated September 23 deadline.
What this means is Oklahomans for Health will have no choice but to get the issue heard in a special election, which is not likely to happen, or retool and make a push to get the proposal in front of voters in 2018.