Three bills that would change Oklahoma's marijuana policies are advancing in the legislature.
HB 2614 would reduce the penalty for simple possession of cannabis to a fine of up to $400. Under Oklahoma's voter-enacted medical cannabis law, anyone possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis that can "state a medical condition" is subject to a misdemeanor fine of up to $400. HB 2614 would apply even to those who cannot "state a medical condition."
Ask your lawmakers to support this modest bill. The current penalty for marijuana possession is up to a year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.
The second bill is the "unity" medical cannabis bill, HB 2612. That bill passed the House yesterday and now heads to the Senate. While some changes it proposes, such as providing for lab testing, are beneficial, others would whittle away at patient protections.
Under HB 2612, landlords could prohibit patients who are renters from vaporizing cannabis at home. It would also reduce employment protections by carving out exceptions for broadly defined "safety sensitive positions" that include driving, firefighting, and caring for children or patients. You can read our letter to sponsors here.
Finally, SB 1030, as modified by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis to up to a $400 civil fine. However, it would also add extremely broad exclusions for "safety sensitive positions," which would essentially nullify the medical cannabis employment protections. The exceptions include handling or preparing food, driving, firefighting, and caring for children or patients.
If you want to weigh in on HB 2612 or SB 1030 with your state senator, you can look them up here. You can give your state senator (the third category to appear after you fill in your address) a polite call to urge that HB 2612 and SB 1030 be amended to restore patient protections.
Finally, please share this message with other compassionate Oklahomans.
Yesterday, the Oklahoma Legislature kicked off the first day of its 2019 legislative session. Let your lawmakers know it's time for Oklahoma to stop arresting and jailing cannabis consumers.
In September, the Oklahoma City Council reduced the penalty for simple possession of cannabis to a civil fine, after the reform was recommended by Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.
Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. Let your lawmakers know there are better uses of jail space and law enforcement's time. It's time to stop derailing lives over a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Please take action and spread the word.
Starting on October 26, Oklahoma City’s maximum penalty for simple possession of marijuana will be reduced to a fine of up to $400. The Oklahoma City Council approved the proposal to remove jail time and reduce the penalty for marijuana possession last week. Until the new law takes effect, the maximum fine for possession is $1,200 and six months of jail time.
If you live in Oklahoma, let your lawmakers know the time has come for statewide decriminalization!
Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.
Please spread the word!
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) will begin accepting medical cannabis applications from patients and prospective businesses on Saturday at 10:00 a.m.! This will make it one of the quickest states to implement a medical marijuana law.
Application materials and FAQs are already available on the OMMA’s site, including for:
OMMA has also opened a call center, which is open Monday through Friday, 8.30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The number is 405-522-6662.
In other news, as you may have seen, the Board of Health and Gov. Mary Fallin signed off on revised final regulations. The revised regs fix the major problems — including by nixing a THC cap and the ban on sales of flower and edible marijuana.
Meanwhile, a legislative working group is continuing to meet on the issue, and the Food Safety Standards Board hasissued recommendations.
Unfortunately, some governmental bodies are moving to restrict patients’ rights: Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma are prohibiting medical cannabis on their campuses. And the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigationupdated the state’s Self-Defense Act license application to warn individuals who use medical marijuana that they should answer “yes” when asked if they unlawfully use a controlled substance, which may prevent them from being licensed.
Please spread the word, so that Oklahoma patients can get the protections and safe access they deserve!
The Department of Health had been working for three months on regulations in case the initiative passed and swiftly released draft emergency regulations. MPP and many other advocates and patients submitted comments raising concerns, flagging several regulations that included onerous restrictions inconsistent with SQ 788.
Unfortunately, yesterday the Board of Health met to consider those regulations and approved almost all of the regulations we expressed concern about. They also added new restrictions — such as prohibiting the sale of smokeable cannabis.
• Prohibit cannabis from being sold with more than 12% THC in infused products and prohibit plants from exceeding 20% THC.
• Prohibit dispensaries from selling smokeable, flower cannabis, and edible cannabis.
• Require each dispensary to have a pharmacist on staff.
• Require physicians to register before making recommendations, complete medical cannabis-specific training, and screen patients for substance abuse, mental health issues, and whether the patient presents a risk for diversion.
• Require physicians to perform a pregnancy test on “females of childbearing years” before recommending cannabis.
These restrictions will deprive some patients of the medicine that works best for them, while driving up costs and driving down doctor participation.
Advocates are considering next steps, including possible litigation. Stay tuned for updates. Also, we want to express our hearty congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to pass SQ 788!
Despite an advertising blitz from opponents in the final days before the election, the Yes on 788 team emerged victorious. Thanks to the campaign’s efforts — and the voters of Oklahoma — tens of thousands of patients will soon be able to safely access medical marijuana with approval from their doctor.
The passage of State Question 788 highlights the strength and diversity of public support for laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. It is noteworthy that this measure passed in such a red state during a primary election, when voter turnout tends to be older and more conservative than during a general election.
Oklahoma lawmakers now plan to pass legislation to implement State Question 788. Read a summary of SQ 788 here.
The win in Oklahoma shows that our movement for sensible and compassionate marijuana policies is growing stronger and stronger. Later this year, voters in Utah and Michigan will also have an opportunity to approve legalization initiatives. Please consider supporting these important efforts:
On January 4, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced her decision to place Question 788, which would create a medical marijuana program in the state, on the June primary election ballot. A majority of Oklahomans support medical marijuana, but primary elections tend to have a lower turnout rate than general elections. Democratic candidate for governor Drew Edmondson called the decision an effort by Fallin to stifle the voice of Oklahomans. If this question is to pass, we need absolutely ever supportive Oklahoma resident to get out and vote on June 26 of this year.
With just a few short months until the election, it's imperative that we do everything we can to make sure every Oklahoman knows about Question 788. Make sure you mark your calendar, register to vote, and tell all of your friends and family. If you would like to support the campaign, check out Yes on 788 to donate or volunteer! Let's make 2018 the last year a patient is forced to live without access to medicine in Oklahoma!
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.