For the third consecutive year, groups of Oklahomans are trying to legalize medical marijuana. However, the initiative may fail again. Unlike the previous two years, more than enough signatures were collected by the group Oklahomans for Health, but there is some controversy surrounding the next steps in the process.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt has reviewed the ballot title and decided to submit a rewrite. Oklahomans for Health claim that Pruitt deliberately worded the revised title in a way that would incite hesitation in voters, making it unclear whether the title is about recreational or medical marijuana. Because of this, it is highly likely that Oklahomans for Health will challenge the rewrite of the title, thus delaying the process and decreasing the chances of the initiative being placed on the November ballot. Pruitt denies that he intentionally worded the title to delay the process, saying that the signatures were not submitted with enough time to “allow the process to be played out completely.”
In my opinion, Pruitt did purposely reword the title so that Oklahomans for Health would have to challenge it, thus delaying the course of action, or otherwise risk losing the vote due to the poor wording. Pruitt has been criticized in the past for his “misleading and partial” revisions. He has also made it clear in the past that he is against the legalization of marijuana; he attempted to sue the state of Colorado in 2014 after Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use. I believe that Pruitt has inserted his own political agenda into this process in order to try to stop something from happening that he does not personally agree with. The legalization of medical marijuana could potentially help thousands of Oklahomans suffering from conditions including seizure disorders, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD.
There are really only two major options from this point, and neither one is great. The first is that Oklahomans for Health challenges Pruitt’s rewrite and delays the process likely beyond this year’s election to as far as 2018. The public could vote on the title in a “special election” this year, but this would cost Oklahoma – a budget-crunched state – approximately $1.2 million. Therefore, this result is unlikely. The only other option is for Oklahomans for Health to accept the rewritten title and allow the public to vote on it as is in November. I think that this is the best decision. If it doesn’t pass, they can always try again in the coming years. Since they got enough signatures, I think it’s best for them to risk it and go ahead and try this year rather than wait two more. The results could come out in their favor.