Nearly 57% of Sooner State residents voted in favor of legalizing medical cannabis in Oklahoma, passing State Question 788 on June 26, 2018.
According to the new law, licensed patients are able to possess up to 3 ounces on their person, 8 ounces at their residences, along with one ounce of concentrate and 72 ounces of edibles and other finished cannabis products. Oklahomans can also have up to 6 mature and 6 seedling plants for home growing purposes. License applications for all adults (18 years and older) require a signature from a board-certified doctor and must receive approval by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Minors are allowed to participate in the program provided their parent or guardian serves as their caregiver.
While the new law went into effect on July 26, government officials have continued to impede the will of the voting public.
As Medicine Man Technologies reported previously, the first challenge was Senate Bill 1120, introduced by Senator Ervin Yen prior to the public vote. The bill advocated for a stringent prescription process and limited the qualifying medical conditions. Initially, it removed PTSD and depression, though Yen planned to remove chronic pain which he deemed to be “too easily abused by patients.”
The current status for SB 1120 is limbo. It was passed by the state’s Senate on March 15 by a vote of 26 to 11 and approved by the House Judiciary Committee on April 11. Luckily, this year’s legislative session ended prior to a final vote – thus, SB 1120 is dead for now.
Unfortunately, this bit of legislation wasn’t the last challenge to medical cannabis in Oklahoma.
Passing and Rescinding “Emergency Rules”
Once SQ 788 was passed, Oklahoma’s Department of Health immediately began drafting emergency regulations. This move was supported by Governor Mary Fallin who made the following statement:
“I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state…I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”
On July 10, Governor Fallin signed-off on divisive rules, including banning the sale of smokable forms of cannabis, limiting THC potency, requiring that a licensed pharmacist be on staff at all dispensaries and requiring “all women of childbearing age” to take a pregnancy test before a doctor could recommend a medical cannabis license.
In response, the Oklahoma ACLU and the state’s Attorney General, Mike Hunter, stepped in to challenge the new rules, citing overreach by the Board of Health. Supporters of medical cannabis in Oklahoma also criticized them as inconsistent with the bill’s language and original intent.
Changes to the emergency regulations were quickly submitted and approved on August 1, rescinding many of the controversial rules passed on July 10. Along with reversing the amendments mentioned above. Further updates include:
- Removes background checks for principal officers of commercial applicants
- Doctors will no longer be required to be registered with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDD)
- Patients will receive a 2-year license, and an annual assessment of a medical need for cannabis will no longer be required
- Commercial applicants are no longer required to state their hours of operation and dispensary hours are no longer limited to 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
- Allows licensed dispensaries to sell marijuana seedlings and mature plants for home cultivation
- Still prohibits commercial entities from manufacturing or selling medical cannabis products that are intentionally attractive to children
While approved by the Board of Health, Governor Fallin will still need to approve the latest version.
What’s Next for Commercial Entities
While SQ 788 stated that license applications would be available 30 days after passage, those interested in dispensary, grower or processor businesses must now wait until August 25 to apply. If you’d like a jumpstart, a checklist of requirements is available here.
Medicine Man Technologies is collaborating with the Oklahoma Cannabis Society to provide Crash Course Seminars to the public (members and non-members) on Friday August 24th and Saturday August 25th. For details and registration, please get in touch with Johnathan Mashtare at OCS. He can be reached by email or phone: (405) 695-1256. Online registration coming soon.
Hopefully, this is the last hurdle for medical cannabis in Oklahoma and the program will be able to roll out with no further controversy, changes, revisiting SB 1120, or delays for patients in need.