OKLAHOMA CITY — Supporters of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s rewriting of their ballot title.
The challenge to Pruitt’s description of State Question 788 was filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court by Oklahomans for Health, the organization that circulated the initiative petition to get the measure on the ballot.
Supporters gathered 67,761 signatures. They needed 65,987.
The measure will not appear on the Nov. 8 ballot due to deadlines, but could appear on a special election ballot or on the 2018 primary or general election ballot.
David Slane, an Oklahoma City attorney representing Oklahomans for Health, said Pruitt’s revision is an effort to elicit a negative vote on the measure.
In addition, Pruitt’s revision is incorrect because it implies the measure would legalize the general use of marijuana, Slane said. The petition seeks to legalize it for medical purposes under a doctor’s care, Slane said.
Pruitt’s version says, “This measure legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma. There are no qualifying medical conditions identified.”
Pruitt said he rewrote the original ballot title after he found it was deficient.
The original version submitted by supporters stated, “A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified physician.”
Slane said Pruitt showed bias in his revision of the ballot title, which is a description for voters about what the measure does. Slane said the revision will confuse voters.
“The Attorney General’s office received the lawsuit late Tuesday afternoon and will begin the process of reviewing the challenge,” said Lincoln Ferguson, a Pruitt spokesman.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court in August said Pruitt’s ballot titles for two criminal justice reform measures were “misleading and partial.”
The court rewrote the ballot titles after supporters of the measures lodged a challenge against the Pruitt versions.
“Scott Pruitt needs to stop playing politics with the people’s right to change the law,” Slane said. “Nobody has the right to do that and he needs to stop doing that.”
The challenge by Oklahomans for Health seeks to have the original ballot language restored.
Pruitt should not be involved in the issues because his office filed a lawsuit after Colorado legalized marijuana, Slane said.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear it. Pruitt then joined another lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.