July 31, 2018, Oklahoma
Since the authorization of medical cannabis law, Oklahoma is trying to iron out its provisions. After the initial approval of the law, the regulators added few restrictive rules to the program, which were recommended by a local medical association. The amendments brought about severe criticism from MMJ users and activists, terming the provisions regressive in nature.
For instance, the regulators prohibited the consumption of medical cannabis in smokable form. In addition, female MMJ patients will have to undergo a prior pregnancy test before getting MMJ cards. The regulators also made it compulsory for MMJ dispensaries to hire a pharmacist.
Following the amendments, two cannabis advocate group sued the state pharmacy board on the grounds that it transgressed its authority. The state’s attorney general also had similar thoughts. This strong backlash from different quarters has forced the board to revert to some original measures.
Crisis Unfolding in the Pharmacy Board
The general counsel of the pharmacy board, Julia Ezell, has stepped down from her position following the allegations that she sent threatening notes to herself in order to influence the hearings. It has also been alleged that the board’s director Chelsea Church made her do that. Church has been fired by the board following the allegations and investigation has also been set up.
The amendment that garnered the most disapproval was the one prohibiting the consumption of medical marijuana through smoking. Administrating cannabis by rolling it in a joint is the most economical mode of MMJ treatment. There is a huge price difference between processed MMJ products (oils, tinctures etc) and dried flowers. In the same way, undergoing a pregnancy test to obtain an MMJ card was termed as an offensive and demeaning measure for female patients. This would have driven up the cost of the treatment as well.
It is important to note that not all restrictive measures are under consideration for amendments. For instance, dispensaries will still have to get their products lab-tested before putting them on the shelf. Tony Sellars, the spokesperson of the State’s Department of Health, has made it clear that some rules might still get amended by the board.
Oklahoma Might Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis as Well
Amid the crisis faced by the state’s MMJ program, cannabis activists are striving for recreational legalization. A cannabis advocacy group, Green the Vote, is claiming that they have gathered required signatures to introduce the question of adult-use legalization in the upcoming public ballot.
This Sunday, the group announced that they had collected over 132,000 signatures for the ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis. It is required to have at least 124,000 signatures to include a question in the public ballot. It is still unclear whether the question would make it to the November Ballot.
The Governors have the authority to set up a special election to have voting on the question of legalization. Otherwise, it will become part of the next public ballot going to be held in 2020.
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]