Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana last week to the tune of 57 percent. In fact, the approval of marijuana in the state was so overwhelming, that more people turned out to vote in the primary elections for the 2018 mid-term than did in the 2016 presidential elections. Yet, when it comes to regulating it, one government bureaucracy has taken over and essentially rewritten the law voters approved.
While both chambers of the state legislature passed bills that would regulate the substance prior to the ballot measure's passage, no final bill was signed by the governor.
After the June vote, lame-duck Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK) proclaimed that legislators would be brought back into a special session to pass regulations. She was ignored. Instead the State Department of Health stepped in. The problem, however, is that the 75 pages of regulations the agency is putting in place have nothing to do with the ballot initiative that the voters supported.
According to KFOR, the state question would give a person 18 years or older the right to apply for a medical marijuana license with a note from the doctor. They would then pay a $100 fee for the license.
Under the state question, a person 18 years or older would need to apply for a medical marijuana license with the Oklahoma State Department of Health after receiving a note from their doctor. If approved, the patient would then have to pay $100 to obtain that license.
An applicant of a license must also submit a color photograph of the head and shoulders in a format of .jpg, .png or .gif no larger than 3 MB in size but has to be at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch from a 2 x 2 inch image in a perfect square ratio. However, the image must be at least 600 x 600 pixels in height and width. Your smile must also be natural, according to the OSDH, but no teeth can be showing. You also have to send in color copies of your driver's license or whatever ID with your photo and proof of residence.
When it comes to the requirements for websites for a dispensary, it's even more detailed. Medical requirements are even more restrictive. If an applicant for a medical marijuana license has Medicaid, Medicare or SoonerCare, the health department requires that they send in a copy of their medical card along with their application.
Oklahoma has been one of the states that passed a law mandating that those on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be drug tested. TANF falls under public assistance and it's unknown if marijuana will now be accepted when drug testing if the applicant for TANF has a license for medical marijuana.
“The unelected members of the Oklahoma Board of Health have decided their opinions about medical cannabis are more important than the opinions of over half a million voters,” said NHSO Executive Director Bud Scott in a press release Tuesday. “Their actions today are an insult to our democratic institutions. We are asking Governor Mary Fallin to do the right thing and reject these additional rules. If she fails to do so, we are asking every legislator, regardless of how they feel about medical cannabis, to come to the Capitol in a special session and restore the rule of law and the will of the voters.”
Scott argued that the Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly supported the state question, to the tune of 507,000 voters.
“This is an attempt to kneecap the program, not a good-faith effort to implement it safely,” said Scott. “The Board’s regulations are so overly broad that most medical cannabis products available in other states would be illegal in Oklahoma. Furthermore, the requirement to put a pharmacist in every dispensary will be financially impossible to comply with except for a limited number of dispensaries owned by pharmacists. The Board has essentially just handed control of an entire industry to one special interest group. This is not only inappropriate; it is borderline corrupt.”
“These rules are unworkable for a functional medical cannabis industry,” said Scott. “At this point, the only way to successfully implement State Question 788 is for the Legislature to engage in a special session.”