Recreational marijuana won’t be on Nov. 8 ballot, OK Supreme Court rules

The Oklahoma Supreme Court announced Wednesday, they denied a request that the State Election Board place SQ 820 on the November ballot.

SQ 820 seeks to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older in Oklahoma.

“The good news is that Recreational Marijuana has achieved ballot access in Oklahoma, for the first time. All Oklahomans should take a look at what SQ820 promises in the coming year, ahead of a vote in 2024. Today’s decision affirmed Oklahoma’s commitment to both citizen initiative ballot access and secure elections in our State.”

—  Jed Green, Director of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action

The court order says “petition for writ of mandamus commanding the State Election Board to prepare and submit SQ820 to the people for their approval or rejection at the general election being held Nov. 8, 2022, is hereby denied.”

Petitioners filed a writ of mandamus which essentially asks the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order the State Election Board to “properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling says the State’s delay in verifying signatures is what lead to this postponement.

Here is some of the outlined timeline:

  • May 3- Petitioners began gathering signatures to get SQ820 on the ballot, with an Aug. 1 deadline.
  • July 5- Petitioners delivered 118 boxes of signature pamphlets to the Secretary of State, almost a month ahead of the deadline.
    • This is the first year the Secretary of State has been tasked with the verification of signatures, previously this office only counted the signatures. Verification involves matching three of six data points (name, zip code, house number, birth date, etc.) with voter registration records.
  • Aug. 17- Signature and verification process concludes, after nearly seven weeks.
    • Court documents show only about 1,000 signature sheets per day were being processed, meaning the process would talk at least four-and-a-half weeks.
    • Court documents say “Petitioners offered volunteers to enter data and suggested acquiring more machines or working past 5 o’clock in order to speed up the process, but the Secretary of State refused these measures.”
    • The Secretary of State hired temporary workers and re-located some staff.
  • Aug 22- Petitioners ask the Court to issue a writ of mandamus.
  • Aug 26- “Internal” deadline for printing the Nov. 2022 general election ballots, ensuring county election boards have time to prepare absentee ballots.

The order goes on to say SQ820 will be voted on by the people of Oklahoma either at the next general election following Nov. 8 or at a special election set by the Governor.

Two challenges remain unresolved, of the four filed during the 10-day challenge period.