Over the past couple of years, our right-wing, power-hungry "we know better than you" Oklahoma politicians have been working extra-hard to sabotage two of the things that make our state a semi-tolerable place to live...
1) Marijuana Legalization
2) Citizen Petition Initiatives
Knowing that, I guess we shouldn't be surprised to learn the Oklahoma Ruling Class is now pulling out all the stops to keep SQ 820 – a citizen petition that would legalize recreational marijuana sales in Oklahoma – off the November ballot.
Even though the group behind SQ 820 submitted all the signatures they needed on July 5th, a private contractor Stitt and Co. hired to verify the petitions conveniently took forever to do so. This now puts the petition in serious jeopardy of making the November ballot.
Well, unless you follow the news on Channel 25:
Although it would be nice if the Channel 25 headline was true, it's probably not. Oklahoma Watch has a very different and probably more accurate take on things.
Check this out:
Recreational Marijuana Question Unlikely to Make November Ballot
Organizers of an effort to place recreational marijuana before Oklahoma voters were notified Monday they have enough signatures and are asking the state’s high court to make sure the state question gets placed on the November ballot.
But the Yes on 820 campaign faces several obstacles in the last part of its journey to the ballot as another challenge period will last at least 10 business days and the state Election Board needs time to print ballots for overseas voters...
Michelle Tilley, campaign director for SQ 820, said delays in the signature verification process by a private vendor mean the proposition may not make it to November’s ballot.
“The last petition Oklahomans voted on took 17 days to count 313,000 signatures,” Tilley said in a news release. “In contrast, we submitted half that amount and it has taken three times as long. This delay means the election board may not receive the green light to print the ballot in time for voters to vote on it in November.”
Yep, the contractor the notoriously authoritarian and anti-weed Stitt Administration hired to verify signatures pulled an ODOT and treated the whole thing like a batch of driver's license renewals. What a surprise, huh?
The contractor the state used is Western Petition Systems. It's owned by Bill Shapard – a conservative Oklahoma political consultant who owns the polling firm Sooner Poll. I believe their slogan is "60% of the time our polls are right every time." And even that may be generous.
I talked to my good pal Ryan Keisel – one of the organizers of the petition – about the delay. They've lawyered up with some badass from Crowe and Dunleavy and filed a very persuasive brief with the Supreme Court to try to expedite things, with the goal of getting it on the ballot this November. If you like to read that type of stuff, you can do it here.
Although I wish Ryan, Michelle and the SQ 820 organizers the best in that fight, the Ruling Class usually gets its way with things like this, so I'd put my money on the SQ being delayed until 2024 at the earliest. Oh well, I guess it's a good thing medical marijuana exists so we have something to keep us entertained while we wait.