Proponents of medical and adult-use marijuana initiative petitions scored a double victory in the Oklahoma State Supreme Court this week, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale.
Cale represented Jed Green and Kris Masterman of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA). They are the proponents of State Question 818 and State Question 819.
Late last year, Paul Tay, of Tulsa, filed a challenge with the State Supreme Court, claiming that the proposed initiative petitions were unconstitutional.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued its opinions on April 19, disagreeing with Tay’s claims. It found that both state questions are constitutionally sufficient to submit to Oklahoma voters. However, the court stripped one of the provisions of SQ 819 that dealt with vacating, modifying, and reversing state marijuana-related convictions and expunging certain marijuana-related criminal cases, Cale said.
State Question 818 | Medical Marijuana
In a nutshell, SQ 818 seeks to create a new article to the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 31, that would:
- Replace the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority with a new state agency – the Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission. (OSCC);
- Define the OSCC’s duties;
- Provide for taxing medical marijuana and medical-marijuana product sales, but exempt hemp products;
- Direct OSCC collections and expenditures;
- Regulate licensing;
- Provide personal rights and protections against arrest, disciplinary action, or discrimination based on Article 31-authorized activities; and
- Grant the State Legislature authority to amend specific provisions of Article 31.
State Question 819 | Adult Use Marijuana
State Question 819 concerns adult use, or “recreational” marijuana. In sum, it seeks to create a new State constitutional article, Article 32, which would:
- Legalize, regulate, and tax the recreational use of marijuana by adults aged 21 years and older;
- Grant certain rights related to recreational marijuana;
- Grant certain protections related to conduct permitted under Article 32. For example, one section of the state question provides general protections against arrest, prosecution, penalty, discipline, or discrimination by state and local government based solely on conduct permitted under Article 32. It also expands these protections with regard to employment, medical care, parental rights, licensure rights, and due process and equal protection rights; and
- Sets state protocol should the federal government legalize marijuana.
Next Steps for the Initiative Petition Process
Signature Gathering Deadline. Now that constitutional issues have been resolved, the Secretary of State must set a start date for the proponents to gather signatures from registered Oklahoma voters, Cale said. That starting date must be within 15 to 30 days after the State Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Secretary of State will notify the proponents of when circulating the initiative petition for signatures may begin and that the signatures are due within 90 days of that date,” said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale.
Counting Signatures and Notifying the Attorney General. The Secretary of State will count all signatures turned in within the 90-day deadline and determine whether they are valid or not under Oklahoma law.
Also, the Secretary of State will file a copy of the proponent’s ballot title with the state Attorney General. The ballot title is an official short summary of the ballot measure that will appear on the state question ballot, Cale said.
Within five 5 business days after receiving the ballot title, the Attorney General must notify the Secretary of State in writing of whether or not the proposed ballot title complies with applicable state laws.
The Attorney General must state all defects found, if any. And, within 10 business days of determining that the proposed ballot title is defective, he must prepare and file a ballot title which complies with the law, Cale said.
State Supreme Court Verification. After reviewing all signatures, the Secretary of State will certify to the Oklahoma Supreme Court: 1) the number of valid signatures, and 2) the total number of votes cast for the state office receiving the highest number of votes at the last general election.
The State Supreme Court will determine the numerical sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures counted and reviewed by the Secretary of State.
The number of required signatures to put an initiative petition on the ballot is tied to the number of votes cast for governor in the last election for that office, Cale said. For initiatives seeking the amend the Oklahoma constitution, the required number of signatures is 15 percent of the votes cast for governor. For statutory amendments, the figure is eight percent.
According to Ballotpedia, SQ 818 and SQ 819 each would need at least 177,958 signatures to be placed on the ballot.
Another Protest Opportunity. Next, the Secretary of State must publish notice of the court’s determination and the text of the ballot title. The notice also must contain a statement that any Oklahoma citizen may file an objection with the State Supreme Court concerning the Secretary of State’s count and ballot title.
That objection may only relate to the number or validity of signatures, or a challenge to the ballot title. The objection must be filed within 10 business days after the Secretary of State publishes its notice.
The court may correct or amend the ballot title, or accept s substitute, or may draft a new one.
Setting a Date for Voting. After any objections have been resolved by the State Supreme Court, the governor must set a voting date.
Voting Day. Oklahomans will vote on the initiatives / state questions. Only a simple majority is needed for the measure to pass.
Working With The Cale Law Office
The Cale Law Office is dedicated to the practice of marijuana law and criminal defense. Our mission is to achieve the best possible results for our clients through hard work, attention to detail, and aggressive representation. This is done while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and ethical standards.
We have helped numerous people set up marijuana businesses and acquire their OMMA dispensary, processor, and grower medical marijuana licenses. If you want a medical marijuana business license, marijuana compliance auditing, or need legal representation in the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry, call the Cale Law Office at 918-277-4800. Or, contact us through the web. Your initial consultation is free.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale is a Legal Committee member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He also serves on the board of Green Country NORML, a Tulsa chapter of NORML. He has been serving people with legal needs for more than 22 years.