July 16, 2018, Oklahoma
As predicted by the experts, the provisional laws to govern Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program has been challenged through two separate lawsuits. In the previous week, Oklahoma’s department of health put forward provisional rules for the program, including two restrictive measures, which resulted in a strong reaction from the industry, activists and patients alike.
The department has banned the sales of smokable cannabis at MMJ dispensaries and made it a requirement to hire a pharmacist for every dispensary. Oklahoma voters approved the State Question 788 (SQ 788) in the first week of June, legalizing the therapeutic use of cannabis in the state.
Green the Vote, a cannabis advocacy group, has filed one of the lawsuits against the Governor, the health department and five members of the cannabis regulatory board. According to the press release issued by the group, they have filed the lawsuit because the state hasn’t fully complied with the provisions of SQ 788 in devising the temporary draft of rules.
The group’s lawsuit has also made a point about how the board members conducted meetings to establish these rules. They were meeting behind closed doors prior to the formal sessions, violating the Open Meetings Act. This malpractice has put the transparency of the process in question, the petition asserts.
The other lawsuit is filed by a group of patients and caregivers in Cleveland County. In their petition, the group maintains that the board has gone beyond its authority in formulating the provisional laws, which are arbitrary and half-cooked.
It is important to note that many legislators suggested holding a legislative session after the approval of SQ 788 to work out the regulations. However, the Governor refused the suggestion citing financial restraints. He then tasked the health department to come up with the regulations. Experts believe that dealing with these litigations is going to cost more as compared to what holding a legislative session would have cost.
Litigations usually result in delaying the process in question. Cannabis activists fear the same with SQ 788. As per Shawn Jenkins, an MMJ activist, the litigations will eventually result in delaying the rollout of 788, resulting in delaying the access of therapeutic strain to the patients. He further says that the patients should not suffer in the legal brawl between state authorities and the cannabis business community.
Regardless of the ongoing legal battle in the state, Oklahomans might have to vote on some other cannabis-related question in near future. Cannabis Advocacy group Green the Vote is currently doing the groundwork to bring in two more initiatives.
One of the initiatives would be about streamlining the nascent medical cannabis program of the state and the other entails the legalization of recreational cannabis. Activists are hopeful that they would be able to gather the required support to include these initiatives in the public ballot. The perception regarding cannabis has positively changed in recent times. Both politicians and citizens now look at the strain with less suspicion.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]