BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
He is vice president of a software company, Nutraspace, native Tulsan, attended Marquette and Bishop Kelley parochial schools, and holds a Masters Degree in computer science from the University of Tulsa. He is also heading up an initiative petition drive to lower municipal criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana in the city of Tulsa.
Grove is part of a loose coalition of citizens seeking reform of the current local and state marijuana laws. A similar effort, as reported in the March Observer [and posted on-line Mar. 3], is underway in Oklahoma City.
These petitions were sparked by the Legislature’s unwillingness to address proposed medical marijuana legislation SB 2016 offered by Sen. Constance Johnson, according to Grove. A Sooner Poll finding last year showed that 72.1% of eligible voters would approve the sale of medical marijuana.
The group has a core of between 30-40 workers and hundreds of supporters, according to Grove. He says petition organizers are in the process of obtaining 501[c]4 status to help raise funds for their effort. Their ultimate goal is to remove the prohibition against marijuana use.
“We’re just kinda tired of working with Mayor Bartlett and the Legislature – we’re just going to use the initiative petition. The Legislature is out of touch,” Grove said.
“This is going through the process. We think the people will make the right decision,” he said citing the success of similar drives in Colorado and Washington states.
Accordingly those states are serving as a template for the local efforts in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
While the two petitions are separate efforts by different organizations, Grove and Oklahoma City coordinators Mark Faulk and Brittany Guest are acquainted. Grove recounts they met in New York City at Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Grove says the petition drive will begin in the spring. They hope to be on a ballot no later than the general election in November.
Asked if he thought lowering the possession penalties would become a wedge issue in the coming party primaries and the general election he said, “It might make it a little less easy for candidates to dismiss the issue.”
If Grove is correct, one primary candidate who could be is affected is Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. Sen. Crain, during a recent citizen lobbying effort at the Capitol, told a constituent seeking support for Sen. Johnson’s medical marijuana bill he couldn’t support the bill because – according to the constituent – “no one will give me any data.”
What Sen. Crain neglected to say is that he had previously agreed to hear Johnson’s bill and the experts he had arranged to testify during the 2012 Legislature, but reneged after he won re-election.
Crain is now running for the Tulsa District Attorney’s office being vacated by Tim Harris, who is retiring. Should he fail to win his DA bid, he can retain his Senate seat which has two years remaining on the term.
Grove does not see the marijuana as a partisan issue. “Actually, I’m a Republican, but I don’t have a label. If anything, I’m a pragmatist.”
Once the petition gets underway, Grove and his group will have 90 days to acquire the needed 17,700 signatures.
Editor’s Note: Grove and his group will have a volunteer and organizational meeting at Tulsa’s Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave., on Saturday [Mar. 8] beginning at 2:30 p.m.
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to okobserver.org. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at https://www.createspace.com/3804081 or at www.richardfricker.com.