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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says pot petition seriously flawed

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says pot petition seriously flawed

Organizers hope to put medical marijuana on the November ballot.

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OKLAHOMA CITY —— Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has found problems with the ballot title of an initiative petition seeking to let voters decide whether medical marijuana should be legalized.

On April 11, Oklahomans for Health gave notice to the secretary of state that the organization was seeking to circulate an initiative petition to get the issue on the November ballot.

The group needs 155,216 signatures to put its measure on the ballot.

In an April 18 letter to Secretary of State Chris Benge, Pruitt outlined several problems with the wording of the ballot title.

He said it does not list all licenses authorized. In addition, it did not explain that marijuana is classified as a nonprescription drug.

It inaccurately states that marijuana is used under a physician's guidance, he wrote. The ballot title did not explain that medical marijuana licenses are issued for the applicant's lifetime.

In addition, the ballot title did not explain that it provides for a tax on the sale of medical marijuana, he wrote.

The proposal calls for a 7 percent tax on the total sale. The funds would go to pay for the Oklahoma State Department of Health's regulation of the industry. Excess funds would go to education and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

It also did not explain the effect on existing state law and that it would not affect constitutional, enacted federal law to the contrary, Pruitt said.

Pruitt indicated that he is rewriting the ballot title to comply with state law.

"The next step will be for the Attorney General's Office to submit the ballot title to the secretary of state," said Diane Clay, a Pruitt spokeswoman. "If it is not challenged and they have sufficient signatures, it will then be placed on the ballot."

Charles "Chip" Paul, chairman of Oklahomans for Health, said the organization hopes to gather signatures sometime between May 15 and June 1.

He said response to the proposal has been overwhelmingly supportive.

He said hundreds and hundreds of people have expressed thanks that someone has come forward to sponsor an initiative petition.

Repeated efforts by Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park, to get legislative approval for medical marijuana have failed. Johnson could not be reached for comment.

"The bills offered claim to be medical marijuana, but it is practically marijuana on demand," said Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa.

The measure lists a number of ailments that could be treated by the drug, ranging from cancer to severe nausea.

Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465


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