On Tuesday, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 788, electing to legalize medical marijuana despite a strong opposition that involved leaders of different backgrounds. This approval is the results of two years of hard work from activists who fought for every signature, trying to get the state to grow and sell cannabis for medicinal purposes.
With this ruling, Oklahoma becomes one of the most conservative states to approve the use of medicinal marijuana. Even though cannabis succeeded, CBS News reports that the bill was heavily criticized for its broad language, which opposers claimed could lend itself for the recreational use of the plant. “I think it’s not written right. I think it’s just so people can get marijuana,” said Connie Givens, a Republican from Oklahoma City.
The group “SQ 788 is Not Medical” launched a $500,000 media blitz that claimed the proposal was a way to legalize recreational marijuana. “This is a bad public health policy that does not resemble a legitimate medical treatment program,” said Dr. Kevin Taubman, chairman of the group.
Polls conducted in the state of Oklahoma show that attitudes towards cannabis have shifted in recent years, with younger people and half of Republicans backing it.
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Robert Pemberton, another citizen of Oklahoma City, said he supports the bill due to the positive impact legal cannabis has had on other states. “They’ve got excess money, and we need that, especially for our teachers. I think we need the revenue from it. Our state’s in trouble financially and I think it would really help.”
It is now the job of lawmakers to advance the law. Oklahoma House Majority Leader Jon Echols believes the implementation process of legal marijuana will be faster than in other pioneer states. “The citizens of the state have decided that they are in support of this law, so there aren’t necessarily any changes that need to be made.”