It might take something green to turn red Oklahoma blue again.
Organizers have filed petitions to change Oklahoma’s brand new laws regulating marijuana use. Voters in the June primary made Oklahoma the 30th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal uses. Now Green the Vote is gathering signatures to get recreational marijuana usage on the November General Election ballot.
Passage would make Oklahoma the 10th state to allow recreational usage. The District of Columbia also allows recreational usage.
I’m not sure what I think about that. I’m socially conservative in almost every way. However, my logic keeps me from understanding liquor stores on every corner and pot sending people to jail every day.
People who fight to keep marijuana illegal but don’t have the same stance on alcohol seem pretty hypocritical to me.
But I know pot has a stigma that alcohol has eroded in the decades since prohibition ended. The fact that one industry has better lobbyists than the other doesn’t hurt either.
More than 57 percent of Oklahoma’s voters cast their ballots in favor of medical marijuana. How many of those would change their minds if the vote was to allow recreational usage?
Are there enough Baby Boomers who lived through the 1960s and 1970s whose Republican voter identification won’t stop them from legalizing pot? How many Oklahomans favor legalization and aren’t willing to give up their conceal carry license to get a medical marijuana permit? All of these small voter subsets will add up. Is it enough?
We might get an answer to those questions in November.
One thing is true, that ballot item would greatly increase Democrat Drew Edmondson’s chances against either Mick Cornett or Kevin Stitt.
When you study the maps from June’s election, Cornett won the Oklahoma City metro area with his more moderate stances and history as a popular mayor. Stitt won the Tulsa metro area. He is a mortgage broker who poured a lot of cash into his own campaign.
Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb won almost all of the rural areas.
Medical marijuana’s passage was based in the areas where Stitt and Cornett won. Lamb’s voters also voted against SQ788.
If recreational marijuana is on the November ballot, that will change the electorate. There will be a lot more voters at the ballot box who aren’t social conservatives. That’s worse news for Stitt than Cornett, but neither one of them would benefit from that demographic change.
Edmondson doesn’t have a great chance to win in November. However, recreational marijuana usage could be enough of a game changer to tilt the scales in his favor.
In the same way, the pushback against Republican legislators down the ballot would only grow when these new voters showed up at the polls.
I’m not sure if they can stop it, but Oklahoma going green could turn it more blue, as well.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.