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Medical marijuana petition surpasses needed signatures for Nov. ballot

Photo courtesy Joe Dorman
Individuals going through the SQ 787 petitions at the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- On Tuesday, Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge announced his office has completed the counting of signatures for State Question 788, Initiative Petition 412, which deals with legalizing medical marijuana.

The state question would amend Oklahoma statute to allow the use of medical marijuana if issued by a doctor.

On Tuesday, the secretary of state’s office counted a total of 67,761 signatures for the proposed state question, more than the required 65,987 signatures needed for an initiative petition amending Oklahoma statutes to be placed on an election ballot, which is equal to the 8 percent of the 824,831 ballots cast in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

But just because the signatures are there, doesn’t necessarily mean the initiative petition is a sure thing for election. Before the initiative can be placed before a vote of the people, the secretary of state’s office will send a report on its findings to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court determines whether the number of signatures counted is sufficient for the proposal to be placed on an election ballot.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will have five business days to review the ballot title. If the proposed title is found non-compliant, the attorney general has 10 business days to submit a rewritten ballot title. After that, the public can, within 10 business days, challenge the signatures and/or the proposed ballot title.

When the measure has cleared all legal hurdles, it can qualify to be placed on a ballot for a vote of the people.

A second petition, which would have asked voters to increase the time for collecting signatures from 90 days to a year, failed to garner the needed signatures.

State Question (SQ) 787, Initiative Petition 411, had a total of 59,981 signatures for the proposed state question, falling short of the 65,987 signatures are needed for an initiative amending Oklahoma statute to be placed on an election ballot.

Former Rep. Joe Dorman, supporter who spearheaded the efforts, could not be reached for comment by deadline, but last week worried that the counting and appeals process could still hurt the chances of State Question 788 being voted on.

The deadline is at the end of August, but you also have to have a 10-day period to review in court for any challenges.

“That’s going to hurt us significantly on time,” Dorman said.

Oklahoma currently has seven questions on November’s ballot. On Monday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed proclamations that placed five additional state questions on the November 8 general election ballot, including:

 State Question (SQ) 779, which would increase the state sales tax by 1 percent to fund teacher pay raises and other education causes.

 SQ 780, which reclassify some criminal offenses, such as drug possession and property crimes, as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

 SQ 781, which would take money saved from implementing SQ 780 and allow counties to fund community rehabilitation programs.

 SQ 790, which would remove a section of the Oklahoma Constitution prohibiting use of state resources for religious purposes.  

 SQ 792, which would allow wine and full-strength beer to be sold in grocery stores and convenience stores.

The deadline for the governor to sign election proclamations for state questions to be placed on the November 8 general election ballot is Friday.

Two other state questions already are on the ballot. SQ 776 would declare that the death penalty is not cruel or unusual punishment and would allow the Legislature to designate any method of execution if a current method is declared unconstitutional. SQ 777 would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture unless there is a compelling state interest.

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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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