The second bill, HB 2397, increases the availability of expungement, for example by allowing the expungement of misdemeanors where the sentence was simply a fine of $500 or less.
HB 2479 also took effect Monday. It reduces the sentence for a second marijuana possession conviction by half, from a two-year mandatory minimum to a one-year mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration.
In other news, although signatures were not submitted in time for this year’s ballot, a medical marijuana provision has qualified to be on a future Oklahoma ballot. The campaign is embroiled in a lawsuit with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a foe of marijuana policy reform, over his rewriting of the ballot summary.
Two moderate marijuana policy improvement bills passed the Oklahoma House this week, and will now move on to the Senate. One, HB 2479, would reduce Oklahoma’s draconian penalties for marijuana possession. It would cut, from two years to one year, the mandatory minimum sentence for a second or subsequent marijuana possession conviction within 10 years of the first. It would also reduce the maximum sentence for such a conviction from 10 years to five years.
The second bill, HB 2835, which has been improved by amendment, would add people with numerous additional medical conditions to the list of patients given limited protections for possession of CBD cannabis oil. Although the bill still limits such oil to 0.3% THC and fails to provide in-state access, it is an acknowledgement by the legislature that cannabis can help patients with many different conditions, including chronic pain.
While both of these bills are limited in scope, this is a rare opportunity to see the Oklahoma Legislature reform the state’s marijuana policy.
If you are an Oklahoma resident, please urge your senator to support both of these common sense reforms.