I’ve been following and covering elections since the 1990s and I can always tell when a vote is going to turn a certain way. Last week, I went to the Cherokee County Election Board in Tahlequah, Okla. to vote early. It was the noon hour and most of the people I saw there voting were a lot older than I. I felt a little worried.
Tahlequah is by no means a liberal town, but by Oklahoma standards, it’s very liberal, maybe too liberal. People still drive big-ass trucks, dress up at 19th Century mythological figures (i.e. cowboys), and have Trump decals on their cars. But you’ll see same-sex couples at Wal-Mart and even an openly gay black young man. There was a drag show in one of the parks last Fall.
But still, there’s a lot of rural areas around the county. And there are 76 other counties with a lot of Trump-loving people who are still stuck in the past. In 2018, the legalization of medical cannabis took the state by surprise with 57 percent of the voters approving it, including conservatives and libertarians. Not surprising but the metro areas of Tulsa and OKC-Norman got about 70-80 percent of their votes in favor. But Cherokee County was the only other county that got 70-80 percent of the votes in favor.
There were 892,758 people who cast votes with 507,582 voting in favor of it. But lightning doesn’t strike twice. According to the Oklahoma State Election Board results, there were only 517,750 people who voting in the March 8 vote to legalize recreational cannabis use. Not one single county of 77 voted in favor of legalizing cannabis. I don’t think it was a surprise.
I doubt a lot of voters even knew the election was happening. And that’s just the way everyone wanted. I only got one mailer in favor of it. I didn’t see much press about it even though media outlets did report there was some vocal opposition. The State Election Board is reporting just over 25 percent of voter turnout. And it lost with 61.68 percent of the voters turning it down with 349,121 people voting against it. I voted in favor it. I was one of the 216,883 who felt it was necessary to do it. But I think by having it just in March when the municipal elections are set for April was a well-structured campaign to make sure it fails rather than piggy-backing it on the municipal elections.
The State has already made a lot of money from the medical cannabis licenses. It got to a point that if you stubbed your toe on the corner of the love seat, you could get a license. That means you have to go a doctor and pay them and then pay the state. Supply and demand for the dispensaries is an issue which means they can charge more. Zoning boards get their money for new dispensaries. Legalizing it is the equivalent of why eat out when you got food at home.
But I think it’s also that the pain management doctors can stay in business while the insurance companies and pharmacies companies get their money. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is a Reaganite through and through when it comes to making government into a business. He goes by every playbook “that sumbitch Reagan” did by making the government work for businesses and corporations instead of the people.
While some people are speculating that he was allegely connected with the failed contract with the state’s Tourism and Recreational Department having Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Restaurants at state parks all over the state. One was at the Sequoah State Park near my house. Stitt has denied any contact with the owner Brent Swadley, but Swadley says they know each other. State legislators were questioning the misuse of taxpayer dollars in the contracts with fraudulent activities and improper bidding practices. This happend during Spring of 2022 and since then, all restaurants have been closed and all signage taken down at the parks.
I don’t like Stitt one bit and neither did some conservatives. Yet, he still got elected and re-elected because the alternative of putting a Democrat, even an Oklahoma Democrat, in office is too much. Like Marjorie Taylor Greene, he claimed residency in the one area he knew he would have a clear shot of winning. He’s had so many questionable business deals that he literally can’t do business in the state of Georgia. Stitt and other law enforcement officials are pulling out the “law and order” talk on the failure of the proposal but it’s all smoke and mirrors.
By keeping cannabis use through a medical license, law enforcement can continue to crack down on people who use. It’s been almost 50 years since Richard Nixon left office, but we’re still following his same ignorant (and very racist) reasons to criminalize cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. John Ehrlichman, who was a White House counsel to Nixon, said the disgraced President did it as a way to crack down on black people and the hippie counterculture movement.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin,” Ehrlichman told Harper’s in an interview before his death in 1999 but after Nixon’s death in 1994. “And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
And since then, public opinion has changed against cannabis use as more people use it for help with pain control as well as mental health issues. Yet, politicians still target the oldest people because they can manipulate them. As I looked around the Election Board office, all I could see was Boomers. And it angered me. They’re voting on a measure that really could help them. I had to go to a doctor’s appointment on money about possible carpal tunnel in my left hand. There were people there older than I who were in rougher shape and they need cannabis and it will probably help them.
But as long as politicians keep bringing up the crime issue, we’re never going to get anywhere. Law enforcement can really crack down on crime but that will take a four-letter word they hate – work. Instead, they can bust people for pot or racial profile and still get their arrest records and show off to the racist people they’re doing their jobs. At the same time, an idiot like Greene is criticizing President Joe Biden because border police are seizing more amounts of fetanyl than under Trump. This doesn’t mean the crime has increased, it means it’s actually decreased. It’s like an air filter. If it collects more dust and particles, that means it’s working.
But conservatives and racists will continue to mixed the words as long as older people continue to get out and vote. It’s a shame that most of the Boomers are the same people who the Nixon Administration meant to target. And like the older people I say, they will continue to get their drugs that will make them constipated and destroy their livers until they’re six feet under.
What’s really going to be funny is when politicians don’t have the bulk of the Boomers to do their biddings anymore. They know they really only have a few more election cycles. By the end of this decade, they will finally have to answer to the Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers. Maybe by then, we will have legalized cannabis across the board.
No one lives forever. And nothing lasts forever, especially outdated laws that are only around for discriminatory purposes.
What do you think? Please comment.