Oklahoma’s medical marijuana issue back on ballot with original language

Oklahomans will have the opportunity to vote on the legalization of medical marijuana in the general election, November 2018. File photo.

by Rob Howard
Associate Editor

Oklahoma advocates for medical marijuana won a victory in the state Supreme Court on Monday. The original version of State Question 788 will be used on ballots in 2018, allowing voters to accept or reject medical marijuana in the state.

Oklahoma’s former Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, had rewritten the ballot language to make it seem that the question would approve all use of marijuana in Oklahoma, both medical and recreational. That was not the intent of the organization that circulated a successful petition to put the measure on the ballot.

The Associated Press reported late Monday that, “In a 7-1 ruling on Monday, the state's highest court rejected the proposed rewrite that supporters of the medical marijuana initiative had argued was intentionally misleading and could confuse people into thinking they were voting to fully legalize marijuana.”

In a brief order, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said, “Petitioners filed a ballot title appeal pursuant to 34 O.S.Supp. 2015 §§ 9, 10, and requested the Court to assume original jurisdiction, review the ballot title substituted by the Attorney General, strike that title, and replace it with the original proposed ballot title for State Question No. 788, Initiative Petition No. 412.

“Original jurisdiction is assumed. Okla. Const. Art. 7 § 4. The ballot title substituted by the Attorney General is hereby stricken. The original proposed ballot title is approved by the Court and shall be the ballot title for State Question No. 788, Initiative Petition No. 412. 34 O.S.Supp. 2015 §§ 9, 10. [Emphasis added]

According to NewsOK, Oklahomans For Health, which led the petition drive, claimed, “Pruitt’s rewrite was aimed at misleading voters into thinking they were voting in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, said Ryan Kiesel, executive director for the ACLU of Oklahoma.

"’Whether it's the folks that signed this initiative petition or all of the voters who will ultimately have the chance to weigh in on whether or not Oklahoma will have medical marijuana, they should be able to do that without the attorney general injecting his personal political position into the ballot campaign by misrepresenting what the petitioners seek to accomplish,’ Kiesel said.”

News9 reported that current Attorney General Mike Hunter said, “We disagree with that result, but respect the decision of the state's highest court."

Oklahomans will vote on the measure in the general election in November 2018. Gov. Mary Fallin could alternatively call a special election to vote earlier.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – March 29, 2017 @ 1:55 p.m.