Organizations For And Against Recreational Marijuana Give Final Push Before Special Election

Organizations for and against State Question 820, which asks voters if they want to legalize recreational marijuana, are giving their final push before the Tuesday special election.

Monday, March 6th 2023, 5:19 pm


It's been a hot debate in Oklahoma for a few years now, and Tuesday, Oklahomans might finally have a resolution.  

Oklahomans will vote in a special election on State Question 820, which asks voters if they want to legalize recreational marijuana for anyone 21 years old and over.  

The group who's against recreational legalization said they're against it because it gives more access to kids in the home.  

Those behind the push to legalize recreational drugs said the real issue is the arrest and prosecution of those kids' parents for minor marijuana crimes.

"Every time you move from medical to legalization the increase in usage happens across all age groups including children," Protect Our Kids Say No On 820's Co-Chair Terri White said.  

The opposition, Michelle Tilley, who's the Yes on 820 campaign director, said, "end ruining lives and breaking up families of people that are arrested for minor marijuana use."

The group against the state question had police prosecutors and educators all share on the state Capitol steps why they believe the legalization of recreational pot for anyone over 21 will make kids more likely to try it, likening the campaign to big tobacco.

"Anytime you make it seem like usage is not a big deal, kids receive the message, it's ok to use," White said.  

Yes on 820's Ryan Kiesel answered that claim with, "The United States Department of Drug Addiction, they are the federal government's foremost expert on this have said there is no correlation between increased marijuana use among youth and legalization."

White, who previously worked for the Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, added that pot use has already sent people of all ages to the hospital for cannabis psychosis.

"Every state that's moved from medical to legalization has seen a further increase," White said.

A study published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association refutes that claim.  

The study looked into the relationship between psychosis and states with legal weed both medically and recreationally.   

That study looked at data from 2003 to 2017 in people 16 and older and monitored monthly changes in the state's psychosis related health care claims across all 50 states to compare with states where marijuana is not legal.  

The study found: "In this retrospective cohort study of commercial and Medicare Advantage claims data, state medical and recreational cannabis policies were not associated with a statistically significant increase in rates of psychosis-related health outcomes."

It also said the research will continue as more states introduce new cannabis policies.  

"You go buy it from the illicit market. You go buy it from a drug dealer. You know what that drug dealer doesn't care about? They don't care if it's sold in child proof packaging. They're not checking your ID to make sure you're over 21. They're not testing their product to make sure it doesn't have pesticides and heavy metals and other narcotics," Kiesel said.

If State Question 820 passes, Tilley said the first legal, recreational purchase will happen 90 days after the election.

For the full JAMA study, click here.


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