OKLAHOMA CITY — Supporters of Oklahoma medical marijuana who want to let voters decide the issue in November delivered thousands of signatures Thursday but say they aren’t sure if they gathered enough to qualify the petition for the ballot.
“It’s going to be close, but we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Joe Dorman, a former Democratic legislator and candidate for governor who spearheaded the effort. “We had a bunch of people show up at the end who delivered signatures.”
The group had until 5 p.m. Thursday to gather signatures from 65,987 registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. The secretary of state’s office will now count the signatures.
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Dorman, a Democrat from Rush Springs who ran against Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014, is a board member of the group Oklahomans for Health, which organized the signature-gathering effort.
If unsuccessful, Dorman said supporters plan to launch a new effort to qualify for the ballot in 2018.
Dorman said it’s likely the signatures may be challenged by pharmaceutical companies or some law enforcement agencies that view medicinal marijuana as a way to allow more access to pot by recreational users.
Linda Webb, whose husband recently died from bladder cancer, said she is convinced marijuana would have helped her husband, who declined to use it because he didn’t want to break the law.
“At the very least, he wouldn’t have suffered and would have been able to eat,” said Webb, who was among more than a dozen supporters who gathered outside the Capitol Thursday for a last-minute push to gather signatures.
If approved by the voters, doctors would be able to recommend a patient at least 25 years old for a state-issued medical marijuana license that would allow them to use marijuana legally and possess up to 3 ounces, six mature plants and six seedlings. The Oklahoma State Department of Health would be responsible for overseeing the licensing of marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and patients.
The state tax on marijuana would be 7 percent, with revenues used to fund the regulation of the industry. Additional revenues would be divided, with 75 percent going to the state’s general revenue fund to pay for general operations and 25 percent earmarked for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Online: State Question 788
Follow Sean Murphy at @apseanmurphy