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Oklahoma governor blames medicinal cannabis for recreational cannabis failure

Merrilee Gasser

(The Center Square) – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt says the state government has to “get control” of medical marijuana after voters shot down a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Oklahoma.

Following over 61 percent of voters rejecting recreational marijuana Tuesday, Stitt said during his weekly press conference that Oklahomans have “a lot of fatigue around marijuana” and sees Tuesday’s vote as a signal that voters want stricter control on the medical marijuana industry.

“I don’t think anybody expected it to be defeated that bad,” said Stitt of the ballot measure. “But as I was traveling the state I knew Oklahomans didn’t want it. They were so tired of a dispensary on every single corner so clearly we don’t want recreational marijuana, and I think there’s an appetite to tighten up the medical side as well.”

Medical marijuana has gotten “way out of control” since voters approved it in 2018, said some lawmakers have blamed it on increased rates of crime.

Stitt says he agrees that those who need marijuana for legitimate medical purposes should have access. However, he feels tighter regulations are needed and that the majority of Oklahomans agree.

Last year, Stitt signed multiple marijuana-related bills that handed down tighter regulations on the state’s medical marijuana industry, including seed to sell and a moratorium on new licenses. Another bill required grow operations to submit electric and water usage so the state could make sure they were not growing more than they were reporting.

“This was supposed to be medical use in the state of Oklahoma and it’s gotten way out of control. We’ve got to get rid of the bad actors, we’ve got to make sure that we get control of that industry,” Stitt said.

Question 820 would have legalized recreational marijuana for those aged 21 and up and would have also allowed individuals to grow their own marijuana in small quantities.

Proponents said legalizing marijuana would have brought in an estimated $434 million in state revenue. Recreational marijuana sales would have been taxed at 15 percent.

Before Tuesday’s vote, a group of almost 40 state senators signed their names to a letter speaking against the measure.

“I think that Oklahomans overwhelmingly don’t believe in recreational marijuana,” the governor said.