Yesterday, Reform OKC, a cannabis activist organization in Oklahoma City, filed a petition that would make cannabis possession civil fine not to exceed $500. Currently, marijuana possession of any amount is a class-b charge, with up to a year in prison.
The bill already has the support of at least one state legislator. “Monday’s filing of a local petition to decriminalize marijuana possession in Oklahoma City represents a monumental first step in the goal of reforming marijuana laws in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson said in a press release.
Johnson has tried to push cannabis decriminalization bills in the past, including a bill to legalize up to an ounce of cannabis for adults 21 an up in January, but the bills never make it out of committee.
Reform OKC members say the legislature has been thwarting the will of the voters, and that the ballot measure decriminalizing cannabis Oklahoma City will not only decrease arrests and court costs in the city, but it will send a message to the state legislators.
“Recent polls show that 57% of Oklahomans and 63% of Oklahoma City residents support the decriminalization of marijuana,” Mark Faulk, candidate for Oklahoma House District 88, said. “It’s very clear that our lawmakers don’t represent the will of the people of our state. Our legislators and governor have sold their souls to the private prisons, and the people of Oklahoma are putting them on notice.”
Johnson agreed: “This initiative petition will pave the way for several strategic initiatives, including a statewide petition, to achieve change in Oklahoma’s marijuana laws.”
Signature gatherers now have 90 days to collect about 6,200 signatures – something that shouldn’t be too hard in a city of 600,000 people.
The bill probably doesn’t have much support at higher levels of government, though. Gov. Mary Fallin has said in the past that she would never allow marijuana to be legalized in her state – not even medical marijuana.
“One of the things that I find over and over and over that just frankly sickens my heart is the amount of substance abuse, drug abuse, that we have in the state of Oklahoma and how many people have just frankly ruined their lives by spending a huge amount of time in our prison system,” Fallin said back in 2011.
Apparently she doesn’t get that decriminalizing a substance that people are going to use anyway will keep people from ruining their lives by spending time in prison. Thankfully, she can’t do anything to stop the decriminalization measure from going before Oklahoma City voters.
Below, read the petition language:
INITIATIVE PETITION NO. 35
To the Honorable Mick Cornett, Mayor, for the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma:
We, the undersigned legal voters of City of Oklahoma City, respectfully order that the following proposed law shall be submitted to the legal voters of the City of Oklahoma City, for their approval or rejection at the regular or special city election, to be held on the _____ day of _________, 2014, and each for himself says: I have personally signed this petition; I am a legal voter of the district of City of Oklahoma City; my residence or post office are correctly written after my name. The time for filing this petition expires ninety days from _________. The question we herewith submit to our fellow voters is: Shall the following amendment to the Municipal Code be approved?
An Amendment to the Municipal Code Of Oklahoma City by Amending Section § 30-269 of the Municipal Code to change punishment for possession of marihuana from a class “b” offense to a class “a” offense, which shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $500.00, excluding costs and fees.
The existing Section § 30-269 reads as follows:
§ 30-269. Penalties for violation.
Any person who violates any of the provision of this division shall be guilty of a Class “b” offense.
The proposed amendment would amend Section § 30-269 to read as follows:
§ 30-269. Penalties for violation.
Any person who violates any of the provision of this division shall be guilty of a Class “a” offense.