State Senator Connie Johnson has introduced a bill which would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 2116 would make the personal use, possession, and limited home-cultivation of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
National polls have shown a steady increase in support for taxing and regulating adult use of marijuana in recent years, with a majority of Americans now consistently supporting an end to its prohibition.
“Marijuana prohibition has been a disaster in Oklahoma as it has elsewhere in the country and it’s particularly hard on minorities. In our state, African American residents are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents, even with similar levels of use. In one Oklahoma county, the rate is 30 times greater,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. “As taxpayers, we’re spending over $30 million each year policing, jailing and incarcerating our citizens on marijuana-related offenses. Yet marijuana is almost universally available. It’s time for a smarter approach.”
“By taxing and regulating marijuana we can take the lucrative market out of the hands of criminals and drug cartels and put it in the hands of tax-paying, law-abiding businesses. More importantly, we can stop arresting adults simply for using a substance less harmful than alcohol and focus our law enforcement resources on violent crimes and real threats to public safety,” noted Johnson.
"Our decades-long experiment with marijuana prohibition has failed. Alcohol prohibition ended when states began regulating and taxing the product, and we should use the same exit strategy with marijuana. If we can regulate a much more harmful substance like alcohol, we can regulate marijuana," said Chris Lindsey, Legislative Analyst for the Washington D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project. “We applaud Senator Johnson’s effort to find a better approach than the same policy of failure. Revenues from adult marijuana sales would be reinvested in Oklahoma’s communities rather than disappear into the underground market. The state should stop propping up drug cartels and gangs and instead support licensed businesses that pay taxes and create jobs.”
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Select Agencies will hold a hearing on the science of medical marijuana on Wednesday, February 12th at 11:30am in Room 419C. Promoted as “Marijuana Rally Day”, advocates will spend the day visiting with their elected officials about their position on pending marijuana proposals.
A detailed summary of the bill is available at http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2013-14%20INT/SB/SB2116%20INT.PDF