OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — A state senator from Oklahoma has introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma, saying that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana and marijuana should be legal.
Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) has pre-filed Senate Bill 2116, which will be introduced when the 2014 legislative session begins on February 3.
“We’ve legalized alcohol, which is far more deadly and dangerous than marijuana,” Sen. Johnson tells KFOR-TV. “I think we need to accept the realities that alcohol is a dangerous drug, prescription drugs are dangerous. Marijuana has not killed anyone.”
The bill would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 or older, and allow for the regulation and taxation of marijuana sales at a rate of $50 per ounce. The bill also legalizes the sale of marijuana paraphernalia to adults 21 or older.
Tax revenue generated from the marijuana industry would be distributed as follows: 30% to the Department of Education; 10% to the Department of Health for voluntary substance abuse programs; 10% to the Department of Health for the “scientifically and medically accurate” education of health and safety risks of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana; and the remaining 50% of the tax earmarked for the state’s general revenue fund.
Under the bill, adults would also be able to grow up to five plants away from public view, as long as “reasonable precautions” were taken to secure the area from access to minors and they were growing the plants on their own property or had permission from their landlord to do so.
Adults would be also be able to assist other adults in growing marijuana, and be allowed to give marijuana to other adults provided they are not financially compensated.
The bill imposes fines between $200 and $400 to minors attempting to purchase or possess marijuana using a fake ID. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by minors under 21 would be decriminalized to a civil offense punishable by a mandatory 4-hour drug awareness program. Parents of minors under 18 would also be notified. Offenders would have to pay for the program, which could cost up to $300. If an offender fails to complete the program within one year, a $300 fine and/or 40 hours of community service could be imposed as a penalty.
If passed, the Department of Health would oversee the marijuana industry, and they would have 180 days to adopt rules and regulations for the industry including licencing and application requirements, security protocols, and tax collection.
The Department of Health would be required to begin accepting applications from prospective marijuana cultivators, retailers, and processors within one year of the bill becoming law.
Local communities would not be allowed to ban marijuana retailers from their jurisdictions, but would be allowed to cap the number of marijuana businesses they allow to operate.
The bill also allows academic research of marijuana by schools and hospitals, as long as test subjects are 21 years or older.
“We’re making progress,” she says. “I think the things that happened in Colorado will mean more action and activism in Oklahoma.”
Of course, it won’t come without opposition from the usual suspects.
“I’ve seen it wreck more lives than any other drug,” says Mark Woodward, of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics, who opposes the bill. “We’re trying to tell kids to stay off drugs and then they’re seeing voters and legislators voting to legalize getting high on drugs. That makes our job as parents, law enforcement and educators a lot more difficult.”