Supporters of an initiative petition seeking to legalize medical marijuana will begin gathering signatures Thursday.
Secretary of State Chris Benge has notified supporters that no protests had been filed and the protest period had expired, giving them the green light to begin circulating the petition.
Green the Vote, which filed the documents seeking to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot, will have until 5 p.m. Dec. 29 to file the signatures, according to Benge’s office.
The organization needs 123,724 signatures to get it on the ballot in the form of State Question 778.
Green the Vote president Isaac Caviness said the group believes it can obtain well over 200,000 signatures.
Caviness said those seeking to sign the petition can find circulators at the Tulsa State Fair, which begins Thursday and ends Oct. 11.
In addition, locations to sign the petition will be posted on the group’s website, greenthevoteok.com.
Through its website, the organization has signed up more than 300 volunteers who have pledged to work at least three days a week, Caviness said.
“Our belief is that getting stoned smoking weed is not medicine,” said Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control. “We do support research into to the chemicals within cannabis, such as THC and CBD oil, to see if they would benefit patients when placed in a legitimate medical form, such as tincture drops, pills, liquids and patches.”
Oklahomans for Health circulated a petition last year to legalize medical marijuana. The effort fell significantly short of the number of signatures required.
Chip Paul, Oklahomans for Health chairman, said his organization will submit documents this spring to circulate a petition. The group wants to start gathering signatures March 1.
Oklahomans for Health plans to circulate its petition even if Green the Vote is successful in attaining the required signatures, Paul said.
The petitions differ on how much of the medicine a person can possess and in licensing fees, Paul said.