State Question 820: Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
On Tuesday, Oklahomans will vote on State Question 820, a measure designed to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. If this bill were to pass, a medical license would no longer be necessary for possession of marijuana. This bill also promises to expunge prior marijuana convictions, which promises newfound hope for individuals with old marijuana related convictions.
What does the bill do?
1) Legalizes recreational marijuana
Anyone over the age of 21 could purchase marijuana without a medical license or prescription. The proposal would allow local governments the ability to regulate when marijuana related businesses can operate and prohibit marijuana use on government owned land and buildings. Similarly, private property owners would maintain the right to prohibit marijuana use on their private property.
2) Establishes a taxation model for recreational marijuana
The bill has a clear and well defined taxation model for recreational marijuana. The Oklahoma Tax Commission will collect a 15% excise tax on recreational use sales, above applicable sales taxes. Excise tax revenues will fund implementation of the law, with any surplus revenues going to public school programs to address substance abuse and improve student retention (30%), the General Revenue fund (30%), drug addiction treatment programs (20%), courts (10%), and local governments (10%).
3) Provides an avenue for expungement of prior marijuana cases
The bill provides for the opportunity to have any marijuana conviction “dismissed, expunged, and vacated.” However, it doesn’t specify if this is intended solely for possession of marijuana charges, or if it would also encompass trafficking marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Under the proposal, defendants convicted of felony possession of marijuana would have their case reclassified and dismissed. This is particularly important for felony possession of marijuana convictions. Assuming you have not been convicted of any other felonies, this would mean that you are no longer a convicted felon and now have your gun and voting rights back.
The Bottom Line
Oklahoma State Question 820 has a few gaps that leave us asking questions about how it will be implemented. However, one thing is certain: it will open additional avenues for expungement of prior marijuana related criminal charges. This not only means restoring rights for people who were convicted of felony possession charges, but also expunging the case as a whole.