Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: Tulsa World (OK)
Copyright: 2016 World Publishing Co.


It's A Bad Idea, but SQ 788 Ought to Be on the Ballot If Possible

If State Question 788 doesn't make November's ballot, proponents have 
no one to blame but themselves.

Still, in the best spirit of democracy and to save some money, state 
officials ought to do everything reasonable to get the medical 
marijuana proposal before voters in November if possible.

Secretary of State Chris Benge announced Wednesday that the petition 
had 67,761 signatures, enough to qualify for ballot access 
provisionally. (A companion proposal to give proponents of initiative 
petitions more time to gather signatures fell short of the mark, 
Benge announced last week.)

But there are several more steps needed before SQ 788 is good to go. 
Attorney General Scott Pruitt has time to review and, potentially, 
revise the proposal's ballot language, and then the public gets time 
to challenge the wording, all of which adds up to enough potential 
delay to push the question past the state Election Board's Friday 
deadline for November's ballot.

If that happens, it's the fault of the petition-passers. The 
initiative petition process and the time involved aren't a secret. 
Other petition-passing groups figured it out and made the November 
ballot. There is no secret conspiracy to deny the pot question its 
place in November.

Still, Pruitt ought to expedite his review of the ballot language and 
the election board should try to squeeze a little more time out of 
the printers, if for no other reason than to avoid being blamed for 
the petition campaign's own failure to plan. Pruitt proved Tuesday - 
when he got a timely interpretation of a new state law on brewery 
sales of strong beer out the door ahead of Friday's implementation 
date - that his people can work quickly when the public's interest is at stake.

And in this case, the public's interest is at stake.

Former state Rep. Joe Dorman, the leading spokesman for the medical 
marijuana bill, said a special election to consider SQ 788 could cost 
$1.2 million - which is money the state can't afford. And moving the 
issue to the 2018 election cycle would feel like democracy delayed, 
which, to tweak the old saying about justice, is democracy denied.

Our position on the medical marijuana proposal hasn't changed. We 
think the proper way to determine if marijuana should be available 
for medical purposes is not by a vote of the people, but by a review 
of the scientific evidence. There's no reason pot should be able to 
short-cut the FDA's safety and efficacy standards.

But 67,761 registered Oklahoma voters signed the petition, and they 
shouldn't be denied a reasonably quick opportunity for vote on their 
proposal, even if it is a bad idea.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom