OKLAHOMA (OBV) – Oklahomans will head to the polls next week to vote on whether recreational marijuana use should be legalized in the state, a change which business experts and farming advocates say would be detrimental to Oklahoma’s business communities.
The special election for State Question 820 (SQ 820) will be held on March 7.
The proposition asks voters to authorize the State of Oklahoma to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, specifically protecting personal marijuana use for people 21 and older. The measure establishes quantity limits, safety standards and restrictions and penalties for violations, and does not stop employers from restricting marijuana use by their employees or prevent property owners from prohibiting marijuana use on their property. It also does not alter the rights of medical marijuana patients or licensees.
SQ 820 proponents arguing that legalizing recreational marijuana will benefit business in Oklahoma. However, business experts as well as top agriculture organizations say that legalizing recreational marijuana would hurt the state.
“Fundamentally, we don’t believe that more marijuana usage in the state is good for Oklahoma,” said Pat McFerron, founding partner at CMA Strategies, an Oklahoma City-based firm that provides government relation services, campaign consulting and grassroots advocacy.
He said legalizing marijuana can hurt the state’s workforce, saying statistics show that individuals who test positive for marijuana have a much greater risk of on-the-job injuries and industrial accidents, as well as a higher likelihood of not showing up for work.
The state’s top agricultural organizations also came out against SQ 820.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau (OFB), the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) and American Farmers and Ranchers (AFR) held a news conference in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, with representatives from the agencies stating that they opposed SQ 820.
Legalizing recreational marijuana will hurt business for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, according to Scott Blubaugh, AFR president.
“We have seen the negative impact the rapid growth of the unregulated medical marijuana industry has had on Oklahoma agriculture and the rural communities,” Blubaugh said. “We have seen a rise in farming challenges, and we have seen a strain on our rural electric and our rural water utilities. We have also seen a rise in crime. We oppose State Question 820 because additional growth in Oklahoma’s marijuana industry will mean additional difficulties for our farmers and ranchers.”