Voters in Oklahoma may not get the chance to vote on cannabis legalization during the upcoming November ballot even though reform activists behind a cannabis legalization measure collected enough signatures. Even though state officials confirmed that activists had reached the signature threshold, the campaign still needs to fulfill a few formalities before the deadline for printing voting materials passes.
Last month, the Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (OSML) campaign announced that it had submitted more than 164,000 signatures to the Oklahoma secretary of state’s office, surpassing the signature threshold that was needed by more than 50,000 signatures. The campaign’s initiative would have allowed Oklahomans aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis. The legislation would also have allowed adults to cultivate a limited number of cannabis plants at home for personal use.
However, with the state deadline for printing voting material fast approaching, the fate of the initiative now hangs in the balance. Backed by New Approach PAC, the campaign will now take its initiative to the Supreme Court for review. If the court signs off on the signature count, the public will have 10 days to challenge the petitions’ validity.
According to Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, however, Aug. 29, 2022, is the deadline to officially certify measures for the November ballot. Furthermore, officials would have had to receive a gubernatorial proclamation of the ballot status by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Ziriax said in a June letter that the “practical deadline” is meant to give county election boards enough time to prepare ballots to meet the 34-day deadline for sending absentee ballots to military voters who are overseas.
The OSML campaign bristled at the deadline’s introduction, calling it artificial and asking the Supreme Court to ensure that voters will be able to vote on the cannabis legalization measure on the November ballot. Oklahomans are more than ready for the creation of sensible marijuana laws rather than blanket criminalization, the campaign stated in a Twitter post, and the insane number of signatures it managed to collect are proof of this sentiment.
Observers believe the signature verification process has taken longer than usual this year because the secretary of state’s office outsourced the verification process to a third-party company, Western Petition Systems, rather than handling the process internally. This administrative delay has taken twice as long as when the secretary of state verified the signatures itself; the delay could prevent the bill from making it to the November ballot, Oklahoma Watch says.
The uncertainty surrounding whether or not Oklahoma voters will be able to make their voices heard regarding the proposed change in marijuana policy in the state is indicative of the huge obstacles that the marijuana industry and ancillary companies such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) have to face in order to serve the customers who need their products, such as the equipment used in vertical cultivation indoors.
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