Oklahoma is not a state where you want to get caught with pot. First-offenders caught with even a flake of bud face up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Cultivation or sales can net you anywhere from a mandatory two years to life life in jail.
State Sen. Constance Johnson, a Democrat from Oklahoma City, says it’s time to change that. Johnson has introduced Senate Bill 2116, which would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of pot for adults 21 and up as well as the personal cultivation of up to five plants. The bill would also license commercial growers and retail marijuana stores as well as lessen penalties for those under 21.
“I think we need to accept the realities that alcohol is a dangerous drug,” Johnson told Oklahoma’s KFOR. “Prescription drugs are dangerous. Marijuana has not killed anyone.”
This isn’t the first time Johnson has tried for a marijuana legalization bill, and it probably won’t be her last. The Republican-controlled Oklahoma legislature generally has no intention of changing their pot laws and probably love being known as one of the harshest states in the nation when it comes to penalizing people over a plant.
That, and Gov. Mary Fallin has openly stated that she would never allow marijuana to be legalized under her watch. Not even medical cannabis, which she says would be too widely abused.
Johnson knows all of that, and isn’t delusional about the bill’s chances. But she says someone has to start pushing the conversation in Oklahoma, and hopes her bill can actually do that this year.
“I just want people to have the conversation,” Johnson told the Huffington Post. “This is about education, and it’s about compassion. Look what the criminalization of marijuana is doing to families. Young people in Oklahoma, 19- and 20-year-olds, go to jail for possessing marijuana. We spend taxpayer dollars to put them in private prisons. [When they get out] their lives are ruined. They cant get a job, education, housing.”
The bill is set for a first reading Feb. 3.