Kris Steele’s Statement on HB 1482

Don’t be fooled – HB 1482 is a Trojan horse attempt to undo SQ 780.

Drug dealing or distributing near a school is absolutely a crime and remains a felony crime under SQ 780, while simple drug possession near a school zone gets addressed with treatment rather than incarceration. Oklahomans should not be led to believe that drug dealing in school zones is a misdemeanor under the state questions they approved because it absolutely remains a felony.

Simple possession of a drug at or near a school is not drug distribution, and is far more indicative of addiction, which is why voters made it a misdemeanor requiring treatment. If a student in a school zone has a small amount of a drug with no intention to distribute it, evidence clearly shows they need treatment, not prison.

The bill is written in a way that causes a large geographic portion of the state to be a felony drug possession zone that turns addicts into felony prisoners instead of patients – exactly the opposite of what voters wanted. No one in the large, diverse coalition that supported these state questions wants anything but the safest environment for our children, and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

Legislators should listen to the will of the voters and focus on our true problems like fixing the broken budget, improving education and getting addicted Oklahomans the treatment they need. The use of school children as a political prop to disguise a legislative attempt to continue criminalizing addiction underscores why voters sidelined legislators and took this matter into their owns hands in November.

–Kris Steele, Chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform