The votes are in and as of 8:40pm March 7th 2023 the first vote for marijuana to be allowed for recreational purposes has been turned down by the voters in Oklahoma. With 303,362 voters saying no and 180,709 voters saying yes, it's a near 2 to 1 against the bill.
NonDoc.com , a local public education journalism site, focused on just who the majority voters were by saying on their blog election night that the ‘No’ campaign focused on rural areas and parental concerns.
They further went on to say the campaign opposing SQ 820 emphasized concerns about child access and foreign ownership of land in the state, as well as the proliferation of grow operations in rural counties that some critics believe has strained water and power resources in those areas. Some operations have been connected to organized crime syndicates, according to state law enforcement agencies.
While many of those grow operations are licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, some grow weed for the black market. In November, four Chinese nationals were found dead at a black-market grow operation in Kingfisher County, making headlines in the state and elsewhere.
Some Oklahoma legislators have also expressed concern about the black market and legal grow operations around the state.
“It’s the No. 1 issue that we face in rural counties,” Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) told NonDoc in 2021. “Every senator or representative I know that lives in a rural district is facing this issue of trying to figure out how to fix it.”
The “No on SQ 820” campaign also focused on the potential dangers to kids. Late in the campaign, a coalition of law enforcement and school officials opposed the passage of SQ 820. Former Gov. Frank Keating also joined the no effort, speaking out in a press conference Monday.
“The last thing I want to see is a stoned society. It makes no sense to me to open the floodgates and permit a substance as destructive to health, wealth and welfare as legalization of recreational marijuana,” Keating said. “It’s something that we as a society need to say, ‘enough is enough.’ We’ve had medical marijuana, and we don’t need people face-down in the streets.”
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel was among a group of public education officials who also opposed SQ 820’s passage.
AG Drummond comments on defeat of SQ 820
Attorney General Drummond made the following remarks the evening of the elections in light of the apparent rejection of State Question 820 by Oklahoma voters:
"I'm proud of Oklahomans for rejecting the expansion of organized crime by defeating State Question 820. Regardless of where one stands on the question of marijuana legalization, the stark reality is that organized crime from China and Mexico has infiltrated Oklahoma's medical marijuana industry. I will continue to focus on this serious threat to public safety by targeting the illegal grow operations throughout our state."
Real estate also has been hit hard with cash from the illegal marijuana trade, with cash real estate transactions topping the charts since marijuana faming became legal in the state for medical purposes.
Oklahoma is the Perfect Place for Criminal Drug Organizations?
Other than Oklahoma City and Tulsa and there immediate surrounding cities Oklahoma is mostly miles after mile of rolling deserted plains with little law enforcement. A perfect place to start a legal medical marijuana farm that turns around and sells product illegally to other countries and states. Law enforcement is currently working on locking the situation down but for now Oklahoma is full of fresh money walking the streets trying to figure out what to do with it.
Chen Wu, a Chinese citizen, had invested $300,000 in a marijuana farm in Oklahoma. On November 20, 2022, Wu walked into a garage and shot one of his farm workers in the leg. He then told other workers to return his investment within 30 minutes, or he would kill them. They could not immediately fulfill the request. Police said Wu executed four of the farm workers, who were also all Chinese citizens.
Unbeknownst to Wu, some of the slayings were also caught on camera. Law enforcement just needed to catch up to the killer and find out what the story was. The chase was on to solve an international criminal conspiracy.
Cheap Capital and Criminal Cannabis
In 2018, Oklahomans voted to legalize medical marijuana. The state then spun up an approval process for being able to grow marijuana for medical use. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority was founded and began acting as the regulatory agency in charge of licensing farms. Despite the approval process being put in place, there were still fewer licensing restrictions than other states with legal medical marijuana. This unfortunately allowed outside investors with access to cheap capital to pour resources in the state and engage in both illegal and legal business practices.
Fast-forwarding to September of this year, Oklahoma state legislators proposed legal action be taken to rein in the possibility that foreign companies were investing in shady ways around the state through the medical marijuana business. Based on this story, it appears they were correct, with some foreign investors becoming increasingly engaged in criminal, mafia-like behavior.
The Decline and Fall of Chen Wu
Eyewitnesses to the murders and those who were acquainted with Wu helped investigators create an impressionistic portrait of him. Who was this man and why did he want to kill marijuana farmers? What was this “investment” that Wu spoke of? His history and backstory are hazy. Here’s what we know so far.
One year before the killings, Wu had worked on the farm as an employee himself. He was 45 and was looking to get involved in the medical marijuana business as more than a farmhand. The farm where the murders took place, a 10-acre plot west of Hennessey, Oklahoma, was a medical marijuana farm operating with an illegally obtained license—exactly the kind of enterprise that Oklahoma lawmakers suggested was becoming an issue in the state.
After committing the execution-style murders, Wu fled the scene immediately. Over the course of two days, he sped Southeast towards Miami, where a state car tag reader flagged his approximate location in a federal law enforcement database. Wu was cornered and caught in Florida on November 22, just two days later.
Chen Wu will be charged with murder and shooting with intent to kill, facing extradition across state lines, right back into Oklahoma law enforcement’s hands. The only investment Wu made successfully is an investment into his future through his actions—a future behind bars.
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