The second bill, HB 2397, increases the availability of expungement, for example by allowing the expungement of misdemeanors where the sentence was simply a fine of $500 or less.
HB 2479 also took effect Monday. It reduces the sentence for a second marijuana possession conviction by half, from a two-year mandatory minimum to a one-year mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration.
In other news, although signatures were not submitted in time for this year’s ballot, a medical marijuana provision has qualified to be on a future Oklahoma ballot. The campaign is embroiled in a lawsuit with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a foe of marijuana policy reform, over his rewriting of the ballot summary.
Back in December, the attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit in federal court against the state of Colorado, claiming that the law making marijuana legal for adults there was causing problems for law enforcement in their states.
Now, a group of prominent Oklahoma Republicans is urging their attorney general to drop the suit, according to the Washington Post:
In a Wednesday letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who along with the Nebraska attorney general filed suit in December against Colorado, the group of Republicans argue the suit poses a risk to state’s 10th amendment rights.
“[W]e share your concerns about the growing amounts of marijuana apparently coming into our state from Colorado,” the letter reads. “However, we believe this lawsuit against Colorado is the wrong way to deal with the issue, for a number of reasons.”
In the suit, Pruitt said Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana injured the ability of Oklahoma and other bordering states to enforce their marijuana laws and violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution giving federal law precedence over state ones.
But the group of Republicans think if the lawsuit was successful at the Supreme Court, it could “undermine all of those efforts to protect our own state’s right to govern itself.”
“We think the best move at this point would be to quietly drop the action against Colorado, and if necessary, defend the state’s right to set its own policies, as we would hope other states would defend our right to govern ourselves within constitutional confines,” the letter reads. “We also do not feel that attempting to undermine the sovereignty of a neighboring state using the federal courts, even if inadvertently, is a wise use of Oklahoma’s limited state resources.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Mike Ritze, Lewis Moore, John Bennett Mike Christian, Dan Fisher, and Sens. Ralph Shortey and Nathan Dahm.