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Oklahoma recreational marijuana vote only a month away

Recreational Marijuana
Posted at 10:37 PM, Feb 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 12:42:03-05

TULSA, Okla. — Voters in the Sooner state will decide if marijuana legalization should be expanded to recreational use for everyone 21 and older through State Question 820 on March 7.

As the date approaches, intense campaigns on both sides of the issue are trying to swing the vote.

“If you really care about your kids and about Oklahoma’s future then you better get out and vote on March 7,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler told 2 News Oklahoma Friday.

Kunzweiler joins a list of Oklahoma officials in the newly-formed Protect Our Kids No 820 coalition chaired by former governor Frank Keating, arguing that any marijuana accessibility hurts Oklahomans, especially if within reach of children.

“The practical aspect of it is that it’s just not safe for children, it’s really not safe for any adults. We don’t know enough about what’s being put in these substances. I don’t think the regulation has ever approached what they promised us," Kunzweiler said.

“It’s all money to (the cannabis industry). They’ll move on with their profits and they’re going to leave their carnage behind, and I have to deal with it.”

That’s not how Ryan Kiesel of the Yes on 820 campaign sees it, and he says the data is on his side.

“Peer-reviewed studies have found time and again that children in states that have recreational marijuana, teenagers in those states – you don’t see an increase in usage," Kiesel said. "You don’t see an increase in access. That’s just not true. It doesn’t bear itself out.”

According to the March 7 ballot proponent's description, SQ 820 offers to "protect marijuana use to all age 21 and older with limits and regulations", while designed to be self-funded with a 15% sales tax.

It also provides judicial process to seek expungement of a prior weed-related judgment.

“It will give law enforcement new, important, valuable tools to be able to go after illicit markets and illegal actors in the state of Oklahoma that they currently don’t have," Kiesel added. "Those are big changes with State Question 820. We’re going to be a more prosperous and a safer state if we pass this.”

The deadline to register for this anticipated vote is February 10. Some voters we spoke with like Kurt and Nancy, a couple from Broken Arrow, said they’ll they base their decision on the funds.

“I am for anything that will raise tax revenue for the state as long as the tax revenue is put to good use,” Nancy said.

A study led in part by the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association states that should SQ 820 pass, the state could earn $821 million from both medicinal and recreational weed sales over the next 5 years.

The debate on SQ 820 will be brought to Tulsa this Tuesday, Feb. 7. Local chapters of The League of Women Voters will host a free forum at the OU-Tulsa campus, open to the public and featuring leaders from across the political spectrum. The live stream can be found here.

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