March 8 (UPI) — Voters in Oklahoma have overwhelming rejected a proposal to legalize, regulate and tax the recreational use of marijuana by adults in the state.
Oklahoma narrowly legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in June 2018 when nearly 57% of voters approved of a ballot measure on issue. But recreational use of marijuana remained illegal.
On Tuesday, the question on whether those 21 years of age and older should be permitted recreational use of the drug was put before voters, with 61% saying “no” to the proposal, according to state election results.
Gov. Kevin Stitt was among Republicans who voiced opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana use, and said following the vote Tuesday that he believes it is “the best thing to keep our kids safe and for out state as a whole.”
“Oklahoma is a law and order state,” he said in a statement. “I remain committed to protecting Oklahomans, and my administration will continue to hold bad actors accountable and crack down on illegal marijuana operations in our state.”
The measure would have permitted adults 21 years of age and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six mature cannabis plants. It would have restricted business licenses to existing medical marijuana dispensaries for the first two years of legalization and would impose a 15% excise tax on sales to consumers.
The question was put to voters as the state has seen a rapid growth in dispensaries since medical marijuana was legalized in 2018. As of Feb. 8, there were 2,877 licensed dispensaries and more than 7,000 growers, according to state data.
“In Oklahoma, we already have more marijuana operations than California, Oregon and Washington combined,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., tweeted ahead of the vote. “That means more crime, more addition and harm to our neighborhoods.”