Medical marijuana won’t be on Oklahoma ballots in November

(WJHG)
Published: Sep. 1, 2016 at 6:35 PM CDT
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Advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma won’t be seeing their question on any ballots this November.

Question 788, if approved, would permit doctors to recommend a patient for a state-issued medical marijuana license, and allow patients to legally possess up to 3 ounces of the drug.

“It’s astounding how many different illnesses this plant covers,” local medical marijuana supporter Vicki Gaylor said.

Gaylor said one of the reasons the measure ran out of time was the counting of several other ballot proposals before it.

“It kind of put them behind getting that 10 day in the newspaper and clearing the ballot title and all the other little things that had to be done prior to going on the ballot,” Gaylor said.

The State Election Board said Oklahoma state statute requires the Governor submit a proclamation 70 days ahead of the election, authorizing it to be on the ballot. The cut-off date was August 30. Question 788 didn’t make it.

Assistant Secretary for the State Election Board Pam Slater said the November ballot is already going through the proofing process, with the board expecting to start printing them any day.

But the fight for medical marijuana in Oklahoma doesn’t end there. Question 788 could be approved to be put on a statewide election ballot in 2018, as long as it clears its remaining ballot title and signature hurdles.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt submitted a change to the wording of the ballot’s summary last week. Pruitt’s Press Secretary Lincoln Ferguson released this statement on Thursday:

“While the Attorney General certainly empathizes with the health care needs some individuals may have with respect to this issue, he firmly believes his role in this process is to put himself in the shoes of all Oklahoma voters as they go to the ballot box on election day, ensuring that they are sufficiently informed by providing an accurate description of the measure’s effects. The proposition itself states there are no qualifying medical conditions, and while a physician has to sign-off on an application for a license, nothing in the law provides a physician will monitor usage.”

Co-Chairman Frank Grove with Oklahomans for Health, the organization that proposed the ballot, said they have been forced to challenge the biased ballot title rewrite put out by the Attorney General Scott Pruitt, and may yet face additional challenges before they can make the ballot.

“His politicization of the Initiative and Referendum process flies in the face of its intent,” Grove said. “It also threatens the lives of Oklahomans who face life threatening illnesses and need access to medical cannabis today. Whatever the outcome of the judicial process we won't stop until SQ788 is put to a vote by the People.”

Gaylor said Pruitt’s revision is written to discourage people from voting “yes”.

“Which made it sound more like it was for everything and no restraints,” Gaylor said. “And that’s not representing that particular petition.”

Some Oklahomans, like Nonie Quintana, said medical marijuana is the last thing Oklahoma needs.

“Everybody flocked to Colorado and now there are more homeless people there than they know what to do with,” Quintana said.

Pruitt’s office said his wording change has yet to be officially challenged, but if it does, the matter will go before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, who will make the ultimate decision of which ballot title will be used.

Gaylor said people should keep their eyes open for a proposed constitutional amendment to be presented for the 2018 ballot as well.