Oklahoma's SQ 820 Not For Kids

by Steve Fair

Oklahomans start voting this week on whether to expand marijuana use in the Sooner state. Early voting begins Thursday, March 2, at county election boards across the state. SQ#820, if approved, would allow recreational use of pot for those over 21. Advocates contend the state is losing millions of dollars in tax revenue by not taxing dopehead use. They say the tax from recreational use could be used to ‘help the children.’ Currently, only medical use of weed is legal in Oklahoma.

Three observations:

First, every sin tax Oklahoma passed in the last 40 years was done to ‘help the children.” Liquor by the drink, parimutuel horse track betting, the state lottery, and casino gambling all were marketed/peddled to Okies as vehicles to provide more money for education. The tax revenue windfall from each was supposed to improve Oklahoma children’s quality of life by making them healthy, wealthy and wise. Never mind the aforementioned did major damage to Oklahoma families by promoting addictive activities. A strategy to smoke, drink and gamble the way to prosperity seems foolhardy, irresponsible, and bad public policy. Most of the time the tax revenue from ‘sin’ tax is a net loss to a community. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, in states where pot has been legalized for recreational use, fatal traffic accidents attributed to DUIs associated with pot have skyrocketed. The only high drivers we need in Oklahoma are those driving up Mt. Scott.

Second, liberals are pushing SQ#820. Out-of-state liberals have pumped $3.2 million dollars into the campaign to move Oklahoma to the left. The same people who in 2022 ran the shady, dark money group Clean Up Oklahoma are mailing Vote Yes on SQ#820 push cards to voters. They are spending millions of dollars to convince Oklahoma voters weed is not a gateway drug and legalizing it would be great for the state. The head of the Yes group is a former Bernie Sanders staffer and the money for the affirmative campaign is not coming from Oklahomans. Why would liberals spend that kind of money in a conservative state? Because SQ#820 is a ‘test balloon’ for those liberals to identify pockets of strength for their progressive agenda. They believe Oklahoma, with its libertarian leanings, is low-hanging fruit for progressives. They could be right.

Third, the get-out-of-jail-free element of SQ#820 is imprecise and obscure. If approved some people would get their sentences for weed offenses expunged. It is unclear exactly how the process will work, but the Yes folks say it will result in less court cases. Oklahomans have seen the results of liberal meddling into the criminal code. SQ 780 and 781 decriminalized many crimes and changed felonies to misdemeanors, and resulted in the release of lawbreakers back into the community. According to the FBI crime database, criminal activity in the state is up since the two bills were passed. Oklahoma’s violent crime rate is higher than New York and California. Oklahoma law enforcement has been hamstrung. SQ 820 is along the same line as 780 and 781. It advocates forgiveness without justice and compassion without fairness.

There is no way a majority of Oklahoma voters want legalized, recreational marijuana in the state. But that majority must vote. Rest assured the stoners, tokers and dope smokers will get their vote out. The question is - will the sober, clear-headed and temperate show up? That remains to be seen. The world is run by those who show up. If Oklahomans care about the state(and their children), they will vote No on State Question #820.

Steve Fair is Chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He can be reached by email at steve.fair@ymail.com.

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