Supporters of a ballot measure aimed at legalizing a statewide medical marijuana program in Oklahoma will get an opportunity to put the issue before voters sometime in the next two years.
Oklahomans for Health surprised a lot of people last month when they successfully turned in more than enough signatures to put a medical marijuana initiative in front of voters in 2016. However, state officials seemed to do everything in their power to prevent the group from moving on to the next phase of its campaign.
Firstly, Attorney General Scott Pruit changed the ballot description, which the group accused him of doing to “cause fear and uncertainty” among the voters. This action prompted the group to formally object to the language – petitioning to have the original wording reinstated -- a move that, along with several other variables, prevented the initiative from being included on the ballot this coming November.
Another potential setback that Oklahomans for Health was then left to contend with is whether anyone would come forward and challenge the signatures. The state Supreme Court was left to decide if the 67,000 signatures collected was sufficient enough to allow the measure to move forward. Fortunately, the timeframe for which a contest is allowed has run out – giving the group the green light to promote the measure as soon as next year.
Chip Paul, a spokesman for Oklahomans for Health, told the Associated Press that the group could peruse a special election in 2017, but the measure will mostly likely be held off until the 2018 election.
As for now, the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is investigating Attorney General Pruitt’s amendments to the group’s ballot measure. The ACLU suggests the language change was not made to provide clarity to the voting public, but is instead a rewrite rooted in bias.
“The more than 67,000 Oklahomans who signed the petition for medical marijuana will have their voices heard,” Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said in a statement. “The historic success of this grassroots effort led by Oklahomans for Health is a testament to the overwhelming support for medical marijuana.”