Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Oklahoma voters resoundingly pass medical marijuana initiative

OK-Yes-788

As reported by Tom Angell at Forbes, "Voters in Oklahoma approved a ballot measure making the state the 30th in the nation to allow broad access to medical marijuana."  Here is more:

The proposal, which was leading by a 57% to 43% margin with more than 98% of precincts reporting on Tuesday night, would allow doctors to recommend cannabis for any medical condition they see fit.  Most other state medical marijuana laws delineate a specific list of diseases and disorders for which physicians can authorize patients' participation.

The approval of such a far-reaching marijuana proposal in a deeply red state like Oklahoma -- during a midterm primary election, no less -- is a clear sign of the mainstream political support that cannabis reform now enjoys....

Under the new Oklahoma law as drafted, legal patients will receive state ID cards and be allowed to possess three ounces of cannabis in public, and store up to eight ounces at home.

Home cultivation of six mature plants and six seedlings is allowed, as is possession of up to one ounce of cannabis concentrates and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused edible products.  Patients could also designate a caregiver to purchase or grow medicine for them.

The new law would also add some level of protection for medical cannabis patients who don't go through the step of getting a state-issued identification card.  People who are caught with 1.5 ounces or less of marijuana and can "state a medical condition" would face a misdemeanor offense punishable by no more than a $400 fine.

The state would issue licenses for medical cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation and dispensing businesses, and a 7% retail tax would be applied to medical cannabis sales.  Revenue would first go toward covering implementation and regulation costs, with the remainder funding education as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Any of these provisions are subject to change, however, and there are indications that they may be amended soon. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said last week that she was prepared to call lawmakers into a special legislative session this summer to address provisions which, in her view, essentially allow "recreational marijuana in the state of Oklahoma."

And in a statement on Tuesday night, the governor said she "respect[s] the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state" but that "it is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens."

"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 [said] Governor Mary Fallin...

In the lead up to the vote, the measure faced vocal opposition from Fallin and from other popular officials like U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R), who appeared in a television ad urging voters to reject medical marijuana.  Groups like the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association and the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association also campaigned against legalization.

I thought there was a real chance that this Oklahoma initiative might fail because state leaders seemingly did an effective job of conveying the message that the proposal was tantamount to approving recreational marijuana, and it also seemed more resources were spent in the campaign against the initiative than for it. But despite these forces, a significant form of marijuana reform passed by a very wide margin in a very red state. Too bad representatives in Washington DC have still not yet fully come to understand the depth and strength of voter interest in ending blanket marijuana prohibitions.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2018/06/oklahoma-voters-resoundingly-pass-medical-marijuana-initiative.html

Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink

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