Yesterday, the penalty-reduction piece of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana initiative became operational. Individuals possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis face a reduced penalty — a misdemeanor fine of up to $400 — if they “can state a medical condition.”
Meanwhile, regulators made application materials available online for patients and caregivers, along with information for businesses and physicians. It will begin accepting applications on August 25.
In another encouraging development, regulators released proposed revisions to many of the problematic final regulations. The Board of Health will meet on August 1 at 3:00 p.m. to consider them.
Draft revisions (summarized here) would make several welcome changes, including:
• Removing the ban on selling smokeable cannabis and edibles;
• Removing the THC cap;
• Removing the requirement that pharmacists dispense cannabis;
• Making the physician registration optional;
• Removing the requirement that doctors subject all “females of childbearing age” to a pregnancy test before recommending cannabis; and
• Removing the limitation on hours of operation, which banned Sunday sales.
However, we still have some concerns, including that:
• Patients who are tenants must obtain their landlords’ written permission to cultivate. Given federal law, even landlords who are open to cultivation may be unwilling to assent in writing.
• Physicians must to “ascertain” if a female is pregnant or likely to become pregnant before recommending cannabis. This strong language may essentially require pregnancy tests for many women, which is patronizing and invasive and drives up costs.
• Physicians must provide an in-person medical exam within 30 days of the certification. Oklahoma allows telemedicine for most medications.
Comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These proposed revisions follow a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma ACLU on behalf of advocates, and advice from Attorney General Mike Hunter that some regulations exceeded the department’s authority.
If you live in Oklahoma, please speak out and spread the word. Congratulations again to everyone who worked to pass SQ 788!
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: