SQ 780 and SQ 781

SQ 780 and SQ 781 were ballot initiatives approved by Oklahoma voters in 2016. SQ 780 reclassified simple drug possession and some minor property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. SQ 781 directed the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to calculate the savings to the state of these changes and to deposit that amount into a fund used by county governments to provide substance abuse and mental health services. 

The measures went into effect on July 1, 2017 and had an immediate impact in reducing the number of felony filings in the state. In 2019, the Legislature passed HB 1269 making the provisions of SQ 780 retroactive, which allowed those convicted of felonies for crimes that became misdemeanors following passage of SQ 780  to apply to have their sentences commuted by the Pardon and Parole Board. An initial group of over 450 inmates had their sentences commuted by Governor Stitt in November 2019.

Since passage of SQ 780, legislators have introduced several measures that would partly roll back its provisions, including a 2021 bill would make it a felony to possess methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or fentanyl within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school. None of these measures have been enacted. As of 2021, the Legislature has failed to adhere to the requirement of SQ 781 that the savings attributable to SQ 78- be made available to county governments for mental health and substance abuse service.