Oklahomans celebrated a victory on June 26th as the votes rolled in and nearly 57% of the voters decided to approve SQ788 for Medical Cannabis. Others from around the country celebrated this historic event with us. But organizers and activists knew all too well that the fight was not over. The agency tasked with the rules and regulations, Oklahoma Department of Health, met June 10th to implement the emergency rules.
Leading up to the meeting, the public was invited to contribute input. Right away there were some disturbing changes like the limitations of THC levels. The day before the meeting and after the document was closed for commentary from the public, officials with several organizations, including Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy, Oklahoma Hospital Association, OSU Wellness and Recovery Clinic and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, held a news conference with a list of “recommendations”:
- Eliminating smokable cannabis. Dispensaries should only offer medical marijuana products that are more easily measured for doses, such as certain edibles, oils and sublingual delivery methods
- Requiring pharmacists to be in the dispensaries and part of the approval process
- Limiting the initial number of dispensaries and locations to 50, as requested by the cannabis industry
At the Department of Health board meeting, emergency amendments were proposed that included eliminating smokable cannabis and requiring pharmacists at dispensaries. Against its own counsel, the board approved these two amendments.
While expecting some pushback, activists were shocked by this vote.
Navy Veteran and Cannabis Activist, Cody Barlow, took to FaceBook with his concerns, “I prefer smoking methods over other products, due to their effective and quick nature. Due to my medical conditions, I can’t wait 30 or more minutes for an edible to take effect. On top of that, if I run out of my own supply or something happens to it, I have to wait a couple months or more for a new crop to grow before I can harvest it. I am disappointed that the Oklahoma State Board of Health succumbed to the petty threats from the Oklahoma State Medical Association and went against the will of the people.”
Cancer survivor and Cannabis Activist, Ray Jennings said, “With all due respect, I know more than most pharmacist about cannabis. Most of us do because we have taken the time to educate ourselves. They never study cannabis as it’s illegal and a Schedule 1 drug ( which is ridiculous). A pharmacist can’t fill a Schedule 1 drug. It’s way over reaching and not in line with 788. Shame on them.”
The Oklahoma ACLU came out in protest as well. ACLU of Oklahoma threatens lawsuit over newly-adopted marijuana rules.
The Vote Yes on SQ788 PAC sent out a call to action to contact the governor to deny the emergency rules set forth by the OSDH board.
However, Governor Fallin wasted no time in approving the emergency rules. The legislator can still un-approve them next session.
Dax Ewbank posted, “The obstructive nature of these requirements is very transparent, and the willingness of government nanny staters to go against the will of the people is a typical characteristic of Oklahoma politics. The clear intent of SQ788 was to allow the sale of all forms of marijuana, and the voters approved it with a large margin. ”
Oklahoma politics continue to oppress the will of the people but the fight is fierce among this growing majority of people defending their right to safe and legal access of a non-toxic plant medicine.
Fortunately, there are allies in legislation to help us navigate these stormy waters.