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Petition to legalize recreational marijuana withdrawn; measure to be rewritten and refiled

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Marijuana is pictured at a growing facility in Hollis, Okla., Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Marijuana is pictured at a growing facility in Hollis, Okla., Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

An initiative petition to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults ages 21 and up was withdrawn this week.

But those who filed the petition plan to rewrite the language and resubmit the proposed state question soon.

Oklahoma City residents Amy Young and Vanessa Brandon Avery, proponents of the measure, filed paperwork Monday to pull the petition. They did not cite a reason in the paperwork filed with the secretary of state's office.

Campaign spokesman Michelle Tilley said they want to make absolutely sure the changes sought by the initiative petition don't interfere with the state's medical marijuana program. Tilley said she felt like the original language did that, but the campaign has fielded numerous concerns since filing the petition.

"We heard after filing concerns expressed from throughout Oklahoma," she said. "So, we are listening, talking and getting feedback and are in the process of revising that language."

Proponent and Oklahoma City resident Amy Young said in a Facebook post she is no longer affiliated with the initiative petition campaign. In an extended post, she said her gut reaction to pull the petition came at the same time others involved in the campaign came to her to suggest rescinding the measure.

An educator for 25 years, Young said she signed onto the measure because she hoped it would boost state revenue for education, mental health and infrastructure and would result in many prisoners being released.

"Speak up about what you want," she wrote. "I’m sure they will be watching. I am no longer affiliated with that group but I believe that they are trying to do something good here."

Proposed State Question 806 sought to legalize recreational marijuana use for Oklahomans ages 21 and older, and attach a 15% excise tax on recreational cannabis.

But the petition was met with immediate pushback from some supporters of the state's medical marijuana community, who said they were surprised by the petition and felt the measure could hinder Oklahoma's medical cannabis program.

The measure also sought to nullify prior drug convictions for marijuana use or possession. Those convicted of such drug charges would be able to petition the courts to have the conviction dismissed and their record expunged.

In 2018, Oklahoma voters passed State Question 788 to legalize medical marijuana. By early December, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority had approved applications for 220,830 medical marijuana patients, which is more than 5% of the state's population.

Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›

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