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Legislative panel approves funds to hold recreational marijuana vote

Barbara Hoberock

Feb 27, 2023

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A joint legislative panel passed a bill Monday that would give the Oklahoma State Election Board additional money to conduct the March 7 special election on recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile, a House panel advanced two similar but conflicting bills dealing with election dates.

Voters will go to the polls next week to vote on State Question 820, which asks them whether they want to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Supporters gathered enough signatures to get the question on the ballot.

State voters legalized medical marijuana through a 2018 state question.

Gov. Kevin Stitt scheduled the special election for March 7. Supporters had hoped to get it on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Holding a statewide special election will cost the state more than a million dollars.

Senate Bill 1154 would give the Oklahoma State Election Board an additional $850,000 and allow it to spend more than $300,000 in unspent money from last year's allocations to pay the costs of holding the election.

“It is what a statewide costs, whether it is a special or regular statewide election,” said Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. “It is generally always in that ballpark. It has been a long time since we have had a statewide special election.”

SB 1154 passed the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on Monday, and Ziriax said he was pleased that the Oklahoma Legislature was moving quickly on the necessary supplemental appropriation.