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Oklahoma Supreme Court agrees to consider marijuana question

Marijuana plants at a grow house in Denver are ready to be harvested.
Ed Andrieski
Marijuana plants at a grow house in Denver are ready to be harvested.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider whether a question on legalizing recreational use of marijuana should appear on the ballot in November.

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws gathered enough signatures to qualify State Question 820 for a statewide vote, but because it took longer than usual to count the signatures, it’s not clear if there is enough time to get the question printed on ballots ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. Officials with the Oklahoma Election Board said earlier this year the statutory deadline to call a state question election for November was Aug. 29.

Oklahoma’s initiative petition process, which allows groups to gather enough signatures of registered voters to amend state law or even the constitution, has been used in recent years to bypass the GOP-controlled Legislature and implement progressive policies like medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion and reduced criminal penalties for low-level drug and property crimes.

But Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced bills to make the initiative petition process more difficult, including a new law approved in 2020 that provides more scrutiny in verifying voter signatures. Since then, a campaign by the Republican Party nationally, fueled in part by the false narrative of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, has led to a wave of new voting laws that will tighten access to the ballot for millions of Americans.