Oklahoma Secretary of State James Williamson announced Monday that a bid to include a recreational marijuana initiative in November’s election has failed to qualify for the ballot. As required by law, the secretary of state’s office reported to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma on the petition drive to place State Question 797 on the ballot. The initiative would have legalized the recreational use and sale of cannabis in the state.
Activists for Green the Vote turned in a total of 102,814 valid signatures from the petition drive, according to the report. That number is far short of the 123,725 that were needed to successfully place the measure on the ballot.
In late July, Green the Vote reported that it had collected more than 132,000 signatures, and was in the midst of a last-minute push to collect signatures in order to ensure success before the August 8 deadline.
Numbers Reported By Activists ‘A Big Lie’
After the July update on the initiative’s progress, Dody Sullivan, a former board member of Green the Vote, said in a Facebook video that the group had falsified the numbers.
“The numbers that have been spoken are not even close to what is in the office,” Sullivan said, according to local media. “It’s a big lie.’
“The numbers that I counted were not the numbers you were given,” Sullivan added.
Sullivan said that early in the State Question 797 campaign, organizers decided to inflate the number of signatures gathered in order to create exposure and momentum for the initiative.
After Sullivan posted her video, Isaac Caviness, a Green the Vote organizer, admitted that he could not verify the numbers that had been reported earlier.
“We did not mean this in any kind of malicious way. We felt like we were estimating very close. I should not have told you all that these were hard numbers. I should have told you all that these were estimates,” Caviness said.
Up Next: 2020
Despite the failure of State Question 797 to qualify for this year’s ballot, Oklahoma cannabis advocates are already looking forward to their next chance to pass an initiative, in 2020.
CJ West is in the process of establishing CJ’s Cannabis Junction, which will be a cannabis cultivation and processing facility and medical marijuana dispensary in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. Voters in Oklahoma legalized the medicinal use of cannabis earlier this year with the passage of State Question 788 in June.
West told High Times that he believes that a new recreational initiative will qualify for the ballot during the next election cycle.
“It is unfortunate that it did not make it on the ballot this time,” said West. “With all the new business opportunities opening up in the cannabis industry in Oklahoma, I believe that there will be sufficient help to raise the signatures needed next time around.”
But he added, many cannabis users will qualify to participate in the new medical marijuana program.
“I do believe with the current standards for receiving a doctor’s referral, that the people who know the benefits of cannabis use will have no problem obtaining a referral to be covered legally until we can pass a recreational law,” West said.