Another one from my e-mail inbox. Sorry for the delay in posting it, this is a very important thing that I think more municipalities should do. Getting marijuana reform passed at the federal level is extremely difficult, and so is passing something at the state level. Getting something passed at the local level is still difficult, but much easier compared to the federal and state levels. It of course isn’t as significant of a victory, but it’s still very symbolic and will help the overall cause:
This Friday, members of Reform OKC will begin gathering signatures on an initiative petition filed March 3, 2014 to decriminalize marijuana in Oklahoma City. This petition is part of an ongoing larger effort to abolish cannabis prohibition in Oklahoma, which has some of the most oppressive marijuana laws in the nation.
“Monday’s filing of a local petition to decriminalize marijuana possession in Oklahoma City represents a monumental first step in the goal of reforming marijuana laws in Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson. ”The savings that can be achieved by people paying a maximum $500 fine versus taxpayers paying for a $24,000/year prison bed for simple marijuana possession will be game changing.”
In addition to the financial incentive for taxpayers, the petition’s supporters believe that there is a strong moral imperative for reform.
Brittney Guest of Reform OKC said, “The prohibition of marijuana and the aggressive enforcement of current oppressive laws is destroying lives and tearing families apart. With this initiative petition, our goal is to prevent people convicted of nonviolent marijuana possession from serving jail or prison time.”
Despite legislative opposition to Senator Johnson’s repeated efforts to legalize cannabis in the state, supporters are rallying around the cause. Out of the desire for cannabis reform a statewide grassroots movement has evolved.
“Recent polls show that 57% of Oklahomans and 63% of Oklahoma City residents support the decriminalization of marijuana,” said Mark Faulk, who is a candidate for Oklahoma House District 88. “It’s very clear that our lawmakers don’t represent the will of the people of our state. Our legislators and governor have sold their souls to the private prisons, and the people of Oklahoma are putting them on notice.”
Proponents for marijuana reform also believe that issuing written citations for possession of marijuana will ease overcrowding in city jails and allow local law enforcement officers to focus their efforts on more serious crimes. Oklahoma City ranks ninth in the nation for violent crimes, according to FBI crime statistics.
The initiative supporters have 90 days to gather approximately 6,200 signatures, which will put the measure to a vote of the people in the next citywide municipal election.
Said Senator Johnson, “This initiative petition will pave the way for several strategic initiatives, including a statewide petition, to achieve change in Oklahoma’s marijuana laws.”