Voters on Tuesday struck down a measure in Oklahoma to legalize recreational marijuana use.

If the tables had been turned, State Question 820 would have allowed for people over 21 to buy and use marijuana recreationally, as well as have up to one ounce of the substance at a given time, per The Associated Press.

It would also have paved a path for those who’d been charged with marijuana-related crimes to get their convictions expunged and their sentences reversed or modified.

The proposal called for a 15% excise tax on nonmedical marijuana sales and the funds generated would be allocated as follows:

  • 30% to school programs that improve student retention and performance and that prevent substance abuse in schools.
  • 20% to drug addiction treatment programs.
  • 10% to courts.
  • 30% to the state’s general revenue fund.
  • 10% to local municipalities.

State Question 820’s defeat comes five years after the state voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2018, a thriving industry with 400,000 patients and approximately 12,000 licensed businesses, per Politico.

What did proponents of State Question 820 say?

The proposal’s supporters argued that it would generate more tax revenue for the state and keep Oklahomans out of the state’s jails and prisons.

“As recently as 2021, 4,500 Oklahomans were arrested and put in jail for small amounts of marijuana,” said ACLU state director Ryan Kiesel of Say Yes on 820, per KFOR.

Kiesel continued, “The idea that you cannot get into the criminal justice system for marijuana in the state of Oklahoma is not based in reality at all.”

“A two-tiered system, where one group of Oklahomans is free to use this product and the other is treated like criminals does not make logical sense,” said Michelle Tilley, campaign director for Yes on 820, per The Associated Press.

According to CNN, Vicente Sederberg LLP and the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association conducted an economic analysis that found the proposal would add $434 million from the recreational tax alone.

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What did opponents of State Question 820 say?

The equally vocal opposition argued that recreational marijuana should remain illegal because it would hurt children, that it still hasn’t been studied enough to be safe and that it is still illegal at the federal level, among other reasons.

According to CNN, Gov. Kevin Stitt said, “We already have medical marijuana to help the sick or the people that need it for pain relief, etc. And so, I think marijuana is bad for young people. I think people need to understand the side effects of that.”

Pat McFerron, with Protect Our Kids NO 820, told KFOR, “We’re pleased and excited that Oklahomans recognize the dangers of marijuana to our kids, to our families.”

McFerron added, “What (voters) said was, we don’t want to go further. We’ve seen the ills of unfettered marijuana use in our state. We’ve heard those stories from other places, and we don’t want to travel down that road.”

Another voter, Mark Grossman, expressed health concerns with the proposal’s allowance of more smoking.

He said, “I was a no vote because I’m against smoking. Tobacco smoking was a huge problem for my family.”