Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson announced the filing of a statewide initiative petition to legalize marijuana, telling supporters that the campaign is based on Genesis 1:29, which suggests that God created "this wonderful, miraculous plant."
"We're putting forth Genesis 1:29 as the basis of this campaign," KFOR.com quoted Sen. Johnson, a Democrat, as telling supporters at the State Capitol on Friday after filing the petition with the office of the Oklahoma secretary of state.
"God created this wonderful, miraculous plant and we know that it has been vilified for the last 100 years, and it's time to change that in Oklahoma," added the senator, who has led efforts, along with attorney David Slane, to legalize pot.
The advocates of marijuana will require 160,000 signatures from registered voters within three months to get the proposal on a statewide ballot.
"We've experienced anything from downright disregard to ignoring us to telling us to, 'Go to hell' pretty much," Johnson said. "And this is where we've had to go. We're taking this to a vote of the people because we know the people of the State of Oklahoma, in spite of what the policymakers refuse to do, want to have a voice on this matter."
The petition states that up to one ounce of marijuana should be allowed for recreational use, and three ounces for medical reasons.
The senator is of the opinion that resultant tax benefits would benefit the state.
The petition recommends a $7 tax per ounce of recreational marijuana - 30 percent of which would be for the Department of Education, 20 percent for the Oklahoma City County Health Department and 50 percent for the general revenue fund.
Johnson also says that decriminalizing possession would ease the burden on prisons. "We're locking up non-violent, marijuana possessing people, giving them felonies and filling up our prisons."
"It's just the right thing to do. It's a plant. It's a God given plant and it could change the world," Fox 25 quoted a petition supporter, Pamela Street, as saying Friday.
Thus far, only Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana.
A poll released in April showed that almost half of Colorado residents had tried marijuana, which included 15 percent of those who used it after its recreational use became legal Jan. 1. More than 50 percent said legalized pot is good for the state, the survey said.
Just a little less than 50 percent of voters in Colorado admitted they had tried marijuana, and 15 percent admitted using it since it became legal, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.
The survey also found that 38 percent of voters were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that a friend or family member had been over-using marijuana.
A CNN/ORC International survey in January indicated that the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged, but the findings suggested the increase in support cannot be generalized. Fifty-five percent of respondents said marijuana should be made legal, but 44 percent disagreed, according to the survey.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 categorizes marijuana as a drug that is as dangerous as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Marijuana is different in nature from caffeine, Christian theologian John Piper wrote on the blog of his Desiring God ministry recently. While marijuana "temporarily impairs the reliable processing of surrounding reality," caffeine "ordinarily sharpens that processing," he said.