Oklahoma would have become the 22nd state to legalize adult use of cannabis and join conservative states like Montana and Missouri that have approved similar proposals in recent years. Many conservative states have also rejected the idea, including Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota last year.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and many of the state’s GOP legislators, including nearly every Republican senator, opposed the idea. Former Republican Gov. Frank Keating, an ex-FBI agent, and Terri White, the former head of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, led the “no” campaign.
“We’re pleased the voters have spoken,” said Pat McFerron, a Republican political strategist who ran the opposition campaign. “We think this sends a clear signal that voters are not happy with the recreational nature of our medicinal system. We also think it shows voters recognize the criminal aspects, as well as the need for addressing mental health needs of the state.”
Oklahoma voters already approved medical marijuana in 2018 by 14 percentage points and the state has one of the most liberal programs in the country, with more than 2,800 licensed dispensaries and roughly 10 percent of the state’s adult population having a medical license to buy and consume cannabis.
On Tuesday’s legalization question, the “no” side was outspent more than 20-to-1, with supporters of the initiative spending more than $4.9 million, compared to about $219,000 against, last-minute campaign finance reports show. (AP)