Simply weeks after Oklahoma voters roundly authorised a permissive medical marijuana legalization measure, Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed into place strict emergency guidelines that hashish advocates say are deliberately aimed toward delaying the brand new legislation.
The brand new guidelines embrace last-minute modifications to ban the sale of smokable hashish, restrict the efficiency of merchandise reminiscent of concentrates, and require a pharmacist at each medical hashish dispensary. Fallin, the state’s term-limited Republican governor, signed the foundations simply at some point after her appointees on the state’s Board of Well being adopted them at an emergency assembly.
Isaac Caviness, president, Inexperienced the Vote
These late additions to the foundations infuriated longtime medical marijuana advocates who helped get the measure on the poll final month, when practically 57% of Oklahoma voters authorised it . Her fast signature additionally got here simply as medical hashish advocates had been rallying supporters to induce her to reject them.
“Persons are utterly offended. They voted for [State Question] 788, and now you’ve got the well being division and our governor pull these shenanigans?” mentioned Isaac Caviness, president of Inexperienced the Vote, a marijuana advocacy group that pushed for the passage of the state query. “It’s a slap within the face to all activists. It’s a slap within the face to all Oklahomans who voted on 788.”
The brand new guidelines on efficiency are prone to create complications for a lot of medical marijuana sufferers, who typically require particular merchandise to handle sure medical circumstances. The emergency guidelines state that “Medical marijuana merchandise and Medical Marijuana Focus processed or disbursed shall have a THC content material of no more than twelve p.c (12%). Mature vegetation marijuana [sic] shall have a THC content material of no more than twenty p.c (20%).”
Most hashish flower accommodates between 12% and 30% THC, whereas hashish concentrates repeatedly exceed 50% THC and might typically comprise greater than 95% THC.
Teams that opposed legalization, together with ones that characterize medical doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and chambers of commerce, known as earlier this week for brand new restrictions on the business, together with a ban on the sale of smokable flower and the requirement to have a pharmacist on website.
The board authorised the 2 provisions in opposition to the recommendation of the well being division’s basic counsel, who mentioned the foundations probably had been past the company’s authorized authority. Marijuana advocates say they’re contemplating authorized motion in opposition to the board.
The rule limiting the sale of smokable flower reportedly received’t have an effect on the legislation’s provision permitting medical marijuana sufferers to develop their very own hashish.
In a press release on Wednesday, Fallin mentioned she thinks the foundations had been one of the best ways to rapidly arrange a regulatory framework for medical marijuana.
“I do know some residents usually are not happy with these actions,” Fallin mentioned. “However I encourage everybody to strategy this effort in a constructive trend so as to honor the desire of the residents of Oklahoma who need a balanced and accountable medical marijuana legislation.”
The modifications rankled medical marijuana proponents who accused the board of defying the desire of the individuals.
“The individuals had been clear. They needed to have the ability to smoke medical marijuana,” former state Sen. Connie Johnson, a longtime advocate for legalized marijuana, mentioned earlier this week. “This flies within the face of what the individuals needed.”
Authorized wrangling has gummed up the rollout of medical marijuana in a number of different states, together with in neighboring Arkansas, the place a proposal authorised by voters in 2016 stays on maintain due to a authorized problem. There have been years of courtroom fights in Michigan after voters there authorised medical marijuana in 2008. Solely now, ten years later, is Michigan on the verge of issuing its first state-approved medical hashish licenses.
Bud Scott, legal professional
In Oklahoma’s June 26 main election, practically 57% of voters mentioned sure to one of many least-restrictive medical marijuana legal guidelines within the nation. The authorised initiative makes it authorized to develop, promote, and use marijuana for medicinal functions. The legislation, which made it to the poll by signature petition, outlines no qualifying circumstances—permitting physicians to authorize its use for a broad vary of illnesses—and provides the state 60 days to implement.
Well being board member Charles Skilling, the CEO of a hospital in Shawnee and the member who proposed the ban on smokable flower, mentioned he did it out of concern for public well being. Well being advocates have pushed for therefore lengthy in opposition to smoking cigarettes that it was exhausting for them to endorse smoking of any type.
The same argument was made by Florida regulators once they outlawed smokable flower after voters in that state authorised a medical marijuana measure in 2016. The ban was finally overturned earlier this yr after it was efficiently challenged in courtroom by John Morgan, a lawyer who helped cross Florida’s legalization legislation.
Oklahoma’s interim commissioner of well being mentioned the company is absolutely ready to maneuver ahead with a regulatory framework for the brand new business within the state, though he acknowledged authorized challenges are probably.
“I’ve no purpose to suppose it received’t go easily and that the desire of the individuals received’t be adhered to,” mentioned Commissioner Tom Bates.
Chip Paul, who helped write Oklahoma’s medical marijuana state query and push for its approval, mentioned the board’s last-minute modifications had been problematic, however he’s optimistic the state is nearer to serving to sufferers.
“Even with a pharmacist on website, even with no smokable marijuana, we now have a program the place sufferers who’re struggling can no less than get some reduction, and that’s a large, large deal,” Paul mentioned.
Bud Scott, an legal professional who represents a number of marijuana companies, known as the board’s actions “an insult to our democratic establishments.”
“That is an try and kneecap this system,” Scott mentioned, “not a good-faith effort to implement it safely.”
Scott has known as for a particular legislative session for lawmakers to arrange a regulatory framework, and Fallin initially supported the concept. However the governor reversed course when lawmakers expressed little urge for food to return to the Capitol to tinker with the brand new legislation simply forward of the November election.
In the meantime, marijuana advocates are gathering signatures for a statewide vote on whether or not to totally legalize hashish for leisure use in Oklahoma. Organizers say they’ve gathered about 84,000 signatures thus far and want about 40,000 extra by Aug. eight to qualify for the November poll.
Oklahoma’s was the primary marijuana query on a state poll in 2018, with elections scheduled for later this yr in Michigan and Utah.
The Related Press contributed to this report, with further reporting by Leafly Workers.