Later for the Sooner State: Oklahoma Voters Reject Marijuana Legalization

The No 80 campaign came out in force to defeat marijuana legalization. (Photo via The Oklahoman/AP)

Oklahoma will not be the 22nd state to legalize the adult-use of marijuana. On Mar. 7, Question 820 lost by a whopping 62% margin.

In 2018, Oklahoma votred to legalize medical use, passing Question 788 by a 57% margin. Since then a huge market, with more than 2,000 stores, has spread across the Southwest state.

Perhaps that was the problem in conservative Oklahoma. Too much pot.

NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project and other groups should stop trying to pass legalization in red states. Adult-use ballot initiatives also lost in Arkansas and South Dakota in November. They have become a waste of time, energy and money, and a source of embarassment.. The best chance for legalization in red or purple states at this point is via legislation. Minnesota, North Carolina and Hawaii might be the next states to pass some modified form of legalization.

According to Ballotpedia, the law would have accomplished the following:

• "Legalize the personal use, possession, cultivation, transport and distribution of marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Individuals would be allowed to possess, transport and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana, eight grams of marijuana in a concentrated form, and/or eight grams or less of concentrated marijuana in marijuana-infused products."

• "Individuals could possess up to six mature marijuana plants and up to six seedlings as long as the plants are kept in one private residence and are not visible from a public place. Up to 12  mature plants and 12 seedlings could be kept on the grounds of a private residence at one time."

• "For the first two years, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would only accept adult-use license applications from businesses that have held a medical marijuana business license for at least one year."

• "Marijuana sales would be taxed at 15%. The tax would not apply to medical marijuana patients."

• "A local government could not ban or limit the number of adult-use businesses in their jurisdictions, but would be allowed to regulate the time, place and manner of operation of adult-use businesses." 

• "The initiative would provide a process for individuals to seek the expungement or modification of certain previous marijuana-related convictions or sentences."

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (OSML) heading up the Yes on 820 campaign. They had a war chest of more than $3 million.

Gov. Kevin Stitt was opposed; 'The big reason for me is No. 1, it's illegal federally. There shouldn't be a patchwork of states doing different things. We need to let the Feds tell us if it's legal or illegal, we shouldn't let the states tell us that. And then secondly, we already have medical to meet the medical needs of Oklahomans that need this as a drug."

Other naysayers included religious groups like the Oklahoma Assemblies of God and the Oklahoma Faith Coalition.

RELATED: Four More States That Might Legalize Adult Use in 2023

In defense of 820, OSML contended: "If a person makes one minor mistake with marijuana, they can land in jail and be saddled with a life-long criminal record that can make it hard to get a job, an apartment, student loans or a credit card. This law will prevent unnecessary arrests and allow people to clean their records. In states that have legalized, arrests for simple marijuana offenses are down 70%-90% – freeing up time and money for the state to focus on more serious issues. Fewer arrests also means our courts aren’t clogged with petty marijuana cases. State Question 820 will create a sensible program tailored to Oklahoma, carefully balancing personal freedom with responsible regulation. Products will be tested, labeled and tracked from seed-to-sale; employers will be able to maintain a drug-free workplace; and it keeps penalties in place for anyone who gives marijuana to someone under 21."

Here are some tweets:



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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.