Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt does not support the legalization of adult-use cannabis in his state—or any singular state, for that matter—preferring instead to leave the question to the federal government.
But in the course of his executive duties, Stitt did concede the point that cannabis legalization remains a state-by-state political question. Last fall, after the Oklahoma Supreme Court pulled the question from the November ballot, Stitt authorized a special election for the voters of his state to decide the matter of adult-use legalization on March 7. With the green light from voters, State Question 820 would make Oklahoma the 22nd state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older.
Stitt may not be thrilled by the prospect, but the impending vote reminds the broader political community that the emerging cannabis industry has been set in motion by the will of the people.
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It’s a point of tension worth examining two weeks out from the election. Stitt and his administration, after all, may find themselves presiding over nearly $2 billion in adult-use cannabis sales in Oklahoma over the next five years, if 820 passes.
“I believe the feds need to make a decision about marijuana,” he told reporters last week. “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. We already have medical to meet the medical needs of Oklahomans that need this as a drug. We’re just now getting our arms around medical marijuana. … The recreational thing is a whole different story.”
The fate of that story is up for grabs. In 2018, Oklahoma voters approved that state’s medical cannabis question by a 57-43 margin.
Earlier this month, law firm Vicente Sederberg published a report on the economic impact of State Question 820. “According to an economic impact and tax analysis performed by Vicente Sederberg LLP and the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association, from 2024 – 2028, Oklahoma stands to gain $821 million in combined medical and recreational taxes if State Question 820 passes,” the authors wrote.
The adult-use market alone is good for $434 million of that.
The measure before voters would lay a 15% state excise tax on adult-use cannabis (along with standard state sales tax and the possibility of various local taxes, the law firm pointed out).
For the March 7 special election, State Question 820 is the only issue that voters will see on their ballots. Stay tuned for further coverage.