Oil And Gas Companies Spent Half A Million Dollars Trying To Defeat Medical Marijuana In Oklahoma
Oil and gas companies spent more than half a million dollars to defeat State Question 788, a statewide ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma.
Companies from Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas collectively contributed $590,100 to “SQ 788 is Not Medical,” a political action committee established to defeat the measure, state ethics records show.
The contributions were made in June, but campaign finance records weren’t available until this week. SQ 788 passed in June with a 57 percent “yes” vote.
Oil and gas companies were the largest business sector contributing to the PAC, which received $1.26 million in contributions and is allowed to collect and spend unlimited amounts of money under state ethics rules.
The largest contributions came from Continental Resources and Devon Energy of Oklahoma City and Houston-based Newfield Exploration, which each gave $100,000.
Large Oil Company Contributions to “SQ 788 is Not Medical”
“SQ 788 creates numerous challenges for employers, particularly those in industries with a strong emphasis on safety,” Devon spokesperson Tim Hartely wrote in an email to StateImpact. “We worked with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and dozens of other leading organizations and individuals to inform voters of the challenges posed by SQ 788.”
Newfield spokesperson Cindy Hassler echoed such safety concerns and said the company thought the language of the state question would complicate drug and alcohol testing and use policies at oil-field sites.
“We believed this would jeopardize the health and safety of our employees — a risk we were not willing to tolerate,” she said.
Representatives for Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 responded similarly; The other companies did not respond to StateImpact’s requests for comment.
Workplace safety and employer’s rights were discussed in two meetings of the joint bicameral legislative working group. Marijuana activists note that the passage of State Question 788 does not supersede state employment laws that allow companies to fire workers without cause.