Saydi Dowd, Staff Writer
Colorado’s status as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana sales has taken its desirability to a new “high.” They are now opening up shops that sell marijuana, making it available for public consumption. You can now purchase weed just like you would walk in and buy a bottle of Coke or a package of gum. The law has some restrictions, though. Customers are only allowed an ounce per transaction, and it is not allowed to be smoked in public places.
All this talk of Colorado’s sudden “green rush” must have gotten Oklahoma state Senator Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) thinking. Recently, Senator Johnson has introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma, saying that marijuana should be legal since alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. She also believes that a number of people are in prison because Oklahoma has criminalized marijuana, forcing the state to pay for people’s living expenses in prison. In her bill, being caught with marijuana outside of the regulations only results in fines and slaps on the wrist, a lot like parking tickets.
Sen. Johnson pre-filed Senate Bill 2116, which was introduced on February 3rd when the 2014 legislative session took place. The bill would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 or older, and allow for the regulation and taxation of marijuana sales at a rate of $50 per ounce.
The bill also legalizes the sale of marijuana paraphernalia to adults 21 or older. It states that any minors attempting to purchase or caught possessing weed can be fined between $200 and $400.
If passed, the Department of Health would oversee the marijuana industry. If the bill passes, the DoH would have 180 days to adopt rules and regulations for the industry including licensing and application requirements, security protocols and tax collection.
In the past, other proposed bills about the legalization of marijuana have barely been glanced at before being tossed in the trash. Johnson’s bill, though, could be the one that gets a second look. Sen. Johnson believes that Colorado’s close proximity to Oklahoma may help push the bill along. So what’s it gonna be? Is Oklahoma ready to make the change or will the bill get rejected like the others? Only time will tell.