Three main agriculture teams communicate out in opposition to legalizing marijuana in Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Three Oklahoma agriculture groups bonded together Wednesday to speak out against legalizing recreational marijuana across the state.
Oklahoma voters will head to the polls March 7 to cast their ballot on the issue. Members of Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association and American Farmers and Ranchers said State Question 820 will only heighten farming hardships for Oklahomans.
“We should not make farming harder as our farmers and ranchers work diligently to grow food that we need here in Oklahoma,” said Scott Bluebaugh, American Farmers and Ranchers president.
The group, which represents 60,000 family farms, ranchers and rural citizens said the agriculture business has already suffered with the passing of medical marijuana.
“Marijuana grow facilities require a large amount of water and electricity,” said Bluebaugh. “Our rural infrastructure is strained, trying to keep up with these facilities.”
Another concern the group expressed was the increase in crime associated with illegal rural growing facilities.
“I can relate to that,” said Byron Yeoman, president of Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association. “Ten miles from where I live there were four Chinese nationals murdered at an illegal grow house.”
Michelle Tilley is the campaign director for “Yes on 820”.
“There are a few bad actors out there and we definitely want to give law enforcement the tools to stamp those out,” said Tilley.
She said voting yes to legalizing marijuana will decrease crime. The campaign released a new ad Wednesday highlighting former officer Steven Mills. He was the police chief of rural Linsey, Oklahoma. The ad showed his support for SQ 820.
“We should be focused on serious crime,” said Mills, in the 30 second advertisement.
Tilley said recreational marijuana would give a lot of resources back to our local law enforcement agencies, freeing up their time in the field.
“It also provides tax dollars that are going to help and fund them to go after serious violent crimes in this state,” said Tilley.
While several agencies in the Oklahoma City area have said they are against legalizing marijuana, Tilley said she has spoken to some that support it and reached out to other law enforcement where recreational marijuana is legal.
“They have seen decreases in crime,” said Tilley.
Tilley claimed the state could see millions in tax revenue from legalizing the drug. That would include the agriculture community.
“I would argue that the gain you get compared to the risks that you take and the impact on society is not a good trade off,” said Rodd Moesel, president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
Moesel said it will come down to who showed up at the polls on March 7th. He said recent polls showed a strong showing from the rural community would be the difference in whether or not the measure passed or failed.