Religion Unplugged

God and pot: Both sides cite faith in Oklahoma’s recreational marijuana fight

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

OKLAHOMA CITY — Michelle Tilley says faith drives everything she does, including her fight to legalize recreational marijuana in her home state.

Baptized at age 7 in the First Baptist Church of Comanche, Oklahoma, the longtime Democratic political consultant leads a group that has raised $3.2 million in support of State Question 820, a pro-marijuana initiative that the state’s voters will decide Tuesday.

“I don’t talk a lot about my faith publicly,” Tilley, 46, a mother of two teenage girls, said in an interview with 

“I come from a family where we were always doers and helpers of other people, but we don’t really advertise it,” she explained. “We hope that by the lives we live that we’re doing good, and it just shows that way.”

Oklahoma would become the 22nd state to approve the adult use of cannabis, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. 

Related: ‘David beats Goliath’: Faith coalition celebrates defeat of recreational marijuana

Perhaps more noteworthy, it would be either the first or second state in the Bible Belt to do so, depending on whether one includes Virginia in that unofficial swath of Southern states where conservative Christian beliefs prevail. 

Neighboring Arkansas defeated recreational marijuana in the November 2022 general election, while Missouri — not typically included in the Bible Belt — approved it. 

“The low-hanging fruit for legalization has been picked, and going forward the battles could be a bit tougher,” Chris Walsh, former CEO of MJBiz, an annual cannabis business conference, told The Oklahoman. “We are talking about (tougher battles) in deep red states.”

Read the full story.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Photo by Whitney Bryen, Oklahoma Watch

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