Oklahoma residents have withdrawn a petition that sought to legalize recreational marijuana use via a statewide ballot in 2020.

Amy Young and Vanessa Brandon Avery filed the petition on Dec. 12 in a bid to get a legalization referendum on next year’s ballot. It would have required around 178,000 signatures for it to be placed on the ballot.

The Oklahoma Secretary of State received notice to withdraw State Question 80. Critics had said the petition was too friendly to out-of-state, corporate interests and argued it would allow them to seize control of Oklahoma’s industry.

Campaign spokesman Michelle Tilley said the group has taken on board the concerns voiced by various Oklahomans, and said it is in the process of revising the language in the petition to reflect the feedback it has received.

Young has been a teacher for 25 years and she said she wanted to see children receive the medicine they need and tax revenue on marijuana go towards funding for schools and mental health. She has now pulled out of the efforts to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma, giving her reasons in an extended Facebook post, but she said the group is still working hard to “do something good here”.

The petition aimed to create a legal framework that would have imposed a 15% excise tax on recreational cannabis sales. Revenue would have paid for an Oklahoma Marijuana Authority to regulate the sector and the vast majority of the leftover money raised would have gone towards schools and agencies seeking to increase Oklahomans’ access to evidence-based, low-barrier drug addiction treatment. Cannabis retailers would also not have been able to open within 1,000 feet of a school.

The group believes that there is a greater chance of the petition securing the necessary number of signatures to end up on the ballot if it revises the language. It promised to resubmit the proposed state question soon.

Last year, 57% of Oklahomans voted in favour of legalizing medical marijuana, making it the 30th state to do so. However, medical dispensary owners have raised concerns about the prospect of the state legalizing recreational cannabis.

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