Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) announced Friday the filing of a statewide initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, citing God's creation of "this wonderful, miraculous plant" as a basis for comprehensive marijuana reform.
"We're putting forth Genesis 1:29 as the basis of this campaign," Johnson told supporters at the state capitol Friday, according to KFOR. "God created this wonderful, miraculous plant and we know that it has been vilified for the last 100 years, and it's time to change that in Oklahoma."
The petition, which aims to legalize up to one ounce of recreational marijuana and three ounces of medical marijuana, would require at least 160,000 signatures from registered voters within three months to appear on the November statewide ballot.
Johnson, who has partnered up with Oklahoma City criminal defense lawyer David Slane to advance the initiative, blamed existing marijuana policies for filling up the state's prisons with "non-violent, marijuana possessing people."
The petition proposes a $7 tax per ounce of recreational marijuana, 30 percent of which would be directed to the Department of Education, 20 percent to the Oklahoma City County Health Department and the remainder to the general revenue fund.
"We've experienced anything from downright disregard to ignoring us to telling us to, 'Go to hell' pretty much. And this is where we've had to go," Johnson, who has previously made several unsuccessful attempts to reform Oklahoma's marijuana policies, said Friday. "We're taking this to a vote of the people because we know the people of the State of Oklahoma, in spite of what the policymakers refuse to do, want to have a voice on this matter."
While medical marijuana use is legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia, Colorado and Washington are the only states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
A September survey by Sooner Poll found that 57 percent of Oklahomans endorsed decriminalizing medical marijuana, with nearly two-thirds of respondents favoring treatment over jail time.
Under current Oklahoma law, possession of any amount on a first offense can earn up to a year in jail time and from two to 10 years for possession of any amount in subsequent offenses. Marijuana sales of any amount can include life in prison.
June 16, 2014