Oklahoma voters rejected a state question Tuesday to allow for the recreational use of marijuana, following a late blitz of opposition from faith leaders, law enforcement and prosecutors.
Oklahoma would have become the 22nd state to legalize adult use of cannabis and join conservative states like Montana and Missouri that have approved similar proposals in recent years. Many conservative states have also rejected the idea, including Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota last year.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and many of the state’s GOP legislators, including nearly every Republican senator, opposed the idea. Former Republican Gov. Frank Keating, an ex-FBI agent, and Terri White, the former head of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, led the “no” campaign.
“I believe this is the best thing to keep our kids safe and for our state as a whole,” Stitt tweeted following the proposal’s defeat. “I remain committed to protecting Oklahomans and my administration will continue to hold bad actors accountable and crack down on illegal marijuana operations.”
State Question 820, the result of a signature-gathering drive last year, was the only item on the statewide ballot.
The “no” side was outspent more than 20-to-1, with supporters of the initiative spending more than $4.9 million, compared to about $219,000 against, last-minute campaign finance reports show.
The proposal, had it passed, would have allowed anyone over the age of 21 to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, plus concentrates and marijuana-infused products. People could have also legally grown up to 12 marijuana plants. Recreational sales would have been subjected to a 15% excise tax on top of the standard sales tax. The excise tax would have been used to help fund local municipalities, the court system, public schools, substance abuse treatment and the state’s general revenue fund.
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