A local group said Saturday that a petition to change the penalty for possession of marijuana in Oklahoma City is gaining traction quickly. “The purpose of the petition in Oklahoma City is to take away jail time for the simple possession of marijuana,” said petition proponent Mark Faulk.
If passed, the measure would make the punishment for possession of marijuana similar to a traffic violation. “It will reduce it basically to a traffic ticket, $500 or less,” Faulk said. Those who filed the petition said they were on pace to surpass their goal for signatures.
“We have (obtained) between 1,000 and 1,500 signatures within one week,” Faulk said. Faulk said the initiative is already spanning beyond Oklahoma City limits. “Our goal is honestly to do a statewide initiative,” he said. Grassroots groups in more than half of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are exploring the idea of circulating similar petitions.
State drug agents, however, worry lessening the penalty for pot possession could have far-reaching implications. “Our concern is these petitions are used as steps toward outright legalization,” said Mark Woodward, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. “Whether it’s a strong fine and/or jail, penalties must be kept in place as a deterrent to drug use.”
Faulk said the group does not want to create more drug users. “Our real goal here is not to have people smoking pot in the streets. That is not the real goal of this. Our goal is to quit incarcerating people and ruining lives and families for something as simple as marijuana possession,” he said. If the campaign obtains 6,200 signatures, the issue will be on the city ballot in May 2015.
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