July 12, 2018, Oklahoma
Voters in Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana by voting in the favor of the state question 788 in the last week of June. This Sunday the state’s department of health presented an emergency draft to govern the medical cannabis operations in the initial phase of the legalization and two days later put it into effect. State legislators and MMJ activist are protesting against the emergency rules, particularly due to two noteworthy restrictions.
Under the emergency provisions, MMJ dispensaries are not allowed to sale smokable cannabis. Moreover, they are required to have a pharmacist on site. Both these restrictive measures became part of the draft on the demands of Oklahoma State Medical Association.
Acting health commissioner Tom Bates is defending the addition of these two provisions in the emergency rules. While talking to media, Bates said that it would be against the board’s objectives to allow the sales of smokable cannabis. As the guardians of public health in the state the board can’t push an activity with harmful side effects on commercial scale, Bates said. He further said that the provisions didn’t bar smoke domestic consumption of MMJ in smokable forms, which means registered patients can smoke homegrown cannabis.
Even though the rules are provisionary and amendable, but the lawmakers and cannabis activists have strongly reacted to their inclusion. According to Democratic House Representative Jason Lowe, the board’s decision to ban smokable cannabis is against the will of the voters. He further censures the bureaucracy of the health department to insult the essence of democracy by taking the measure that is against the voters’ wishes. Lowe has asked the Governor to immediately call the legislative session so that the elected representatives can work to implement the law as directed by the residents of the state.
Bud Scott heads a cannabis activist group New Health Solutions Oklahoma. He says that restricting smokable cannabis is also not a deliberated move from the medical point of view. According to Scotts, different ways to administer marijuana (smoking, consuming in the form of oil or edibles) result in different effects inside the patient’s body. For some patients, the delivery of marijuana through smoking proves to be the most effective. An endocannabinoid specialist, Dr. Noel Williams agrees with Scott’s argument. He says that like any other medication, marijuana also reacts differently when ingested through different delivery methods.
There is a general consensus among cannabis activists that banning smokable cannabis sales is a ridiculous decision. People who want to consume marijuana by smoking it would eventually resort to the illegal marketplace to get flower buds. The decision looks more inconceivable when one sees it in the backdrop of provisions applied to homegrown cannabis.
MMJ patients with cultivable gardens and backyard can smoke marijuana by growing it themselves, but the ones don’t have this amenity are not allowed smokable cannabis. This restriction only reeks of discrimination and nothing else. However, there is hope because this bureaucratic maneuver from the health department has rejuvenated the lawmakers to take matters into their hands.