It’s high time to fix the budget

As of July 2017, medical marijuana was legal in 27 states and the District of Columbia. While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, enforcement against state-legalized pot is not very strict.
In December 2014, Congress passed a law that prohibits federal agents from raiding marijuana growers in states where the drugs cultivation is legal. Oklahoma’s only foray into the marijuana legalization realm was to legalize the use and possession of cannabis oil for medical means. What about regular cannabis?
Oklahomans for Health is the organization leading the charge for medical marijuana in Oklahoma. As of July this year, no official opponent organization had appeared. Most readers know about the wondrous effects pot legalization had for Colorado’s state coffers. In fiscal year 2016, Colorado made $200 million in tax revenue from $1.3 billion in marijuana revenue.
The same will happen for Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s legislature is currently meeting in a special session to figure out what to do about the large budget shortfall this fiscal year. Guess where the 7 percent tax on marijuana sales is set to go? Three-quarters to the state’s general fund to assist with, you guessed it, education and 25 percent to the State Department of Health for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
For a state that’s been considering a four day public school week and has hired an all-time high amount of emergency (essentially untrained) teachers to fill its classrooms, extra money in the education budget is sorely needed.
Numerous statistics in the public domain discuss how the war on drugs has by-and-large failed the American people. It’s responsible for the incarceration of thousands for light, simple crimes (California’s old three strike policy), seen the expanded proliferation of the illegal drug trade and was simply founded on fear-based politics of the Nixon administration.
I would point the interested reader to the documentary “13th” for even more evidence. The archaic practice of strict marijuana illegalization must stop.
Oklahoma currently has its highest number of incarcerated citizens ever. In a state where we pack our jails to the max and drop millions of taxpayer dollars on locking people up, while successive state legislatures cut more and more funding to public schools, the legalization and taxation of the marijuana industry seems only right.
The people of this state owe it to themselves to vote yes on this measure. Regulation and taxation means: more money for schools, less people in prison for light drug offenses and yes, better, higher quality marijuana and edibles.
Opponents still tout the same line that weed is a “gateway drug”. That those who seek marijuana will simply graduate to harder drugs, chasing the ever more elusive high while simultaneously becoming degenerates in the process. That once legalized, marijuana will flood the streets and create numerous new users and addicts. The success rates in other states where legalization took hold show us that this simply is not true. Nobody goes to a dispensary hoping to score crack.
There are strict laws about how old one must be to obtain a medical license. The only reason marijuana was ever thought to be a gateway drug in the first place is that while it’s illegal, the same dealers who push cocaine, heroin and pills get to corner the marijuana market too.
Once it’s legalized, it’s no longer as lucrative of a money-making venture for criminals, especially considering that dispensaries sell a higher quality, cheaper product with more options: edibles, gummies, teas, lotions and butters to name a few.
The ballot initiative would have gone to the polls during the general election last November, but it was tied up in a lawsuit over a name change instigated by then-attorney general Scott Pruitt.
Oklahomans for Health sued his office on grounds that its rewrite of the title could lead voters to think they’re legalizing recreational marijuana, not medicinal. Oklahomans for Health won the lawsuit in the state supreme court in March of 2017. The proposal kept its original title. Thus, SQ 788, in its intended form, will head to the polls next November.

Post Author: Alex Garoffolo