Today, Oklahomans for Health submitted an application for petition with Oklahoma Secretary of State, Chris Benge, which proposes to add a question to the November ballot asking whether or not Oklahomans should legalize medical marijuana for serious conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
The initiative would call for the reclassification of marijuana as an herbal drug, which would be regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. It would also create licensing and regulatory rules for cultivation and distribution through dispensaries. Patients wanting to use medical marijuana would need to pay a $125 application fee for a medical marijuana card and have an Oklahoma board-certified physician provide a recommendation.
The proposed initiative comes at a time when support for medical marijuana is growing in the state with a recent poll showing 71% approval rate for decriminalizing medical marijuana. A rally was held at the State Capital in February, where parents of epileptic children came to talk to their representatives. Even Josh Stanley of Strains of Hope, featured on WEEDS by Sanjay Gupta, showed up to support Oklahomans in their plight.
Although Oklahoma has some of the harshest marijuana laws, Chip Paul, Chairman of Oklahomans for Health, believes the “language in this initiative…should be a very easy thing for the state of Oklahoma to manage.”
The 18-year-old question as to whether or not legalizing medical marijuana causes an increase in crime seems to be answered in a recent study by a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas this week. The results did not indicate a “crime exacerbating effect” of medical marijuana on any of the Part I offenses, which (according to the FBI) include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.
Alternatively, states with medical marijuana laws showed a reduction in homicide and assault rates. This is congruent to other studies by The National Academy of Sciences that found THC — the active ingredient in pot — actually causes a decrease in “aggressive and violent behavior” in chronic marijuana users.
“The findings on the relationship between violence and marijuana use are mixed and much of the evidence points toward reductions in violent behavior for those who smoke marijuana,” Robert Morris, the study’s lead author, said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post. “In fact, researchers have suggested that any increase in criminality resulting from marijuana use may be explained by its illegality, rather than from the substance itself.”
These findings run counter to arguments that suggest making marijuana legal for medical purposes poses a danger to public health, in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.
The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET on a bill that would allow people suffering from conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), and HIV/AIDS to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
HB 350, known as the Cannabis Compassion Act, introduced on February 10 by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse, was the first effective medical marijuana bill ever introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives. It would allow licensed patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would also establish safety compliance facilities and permit one medical marijuana compassion center for every 100,000 state residents. Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) introduced a similar measure, SB 43, earlier this year.
Nearly 80% of Kentucky adults think people with serious illnesses should be allowed to access and use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released in May 2013.
Last week, the state confirmed that the campaign, United for Care, had submitted enough valid signatures to make the ballot. The only hurdle left before officially making the ballot was surviving the legal challenge brought by Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi argued the summary of the measure (which was written by its proponents) didn’t accurately explain what the initiative would do. She also claimed the measure violated Florida’s requirement that ballot questions be limited to a single subject. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, disagreed.