OK: Agencies To Meet To Develop Framework Should Medical Marijuana Pass Ballot

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Representatives from various state agencies are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss how to implement legalization of medical marijuana should voters approve it on June 26.

Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates sent a letter to agencies inviting them to the meeting. He wrote that the Oklahoma State Department of Health would be responsible for licensing and regulating medical marijuana should it pass.

“It is basically a planning session with some of the agencies that would have input on State Question 788,” said Tony Sellars, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The agency has started planning for the potential implementation of a regulatory office, Bates wrote.

“In addition to gathering internal staff to develop implementation plans, the department recognizes that other state agencies and entities can provide valuable input into the planning process and may be impacted by the passage of State Question 788,” Bates wrote.

Legislative efforts to put in place a regulatory framework should the state question pass was voted down before lawmakers adjourned earlier this month. Some have discussed asking lawmakers to return in a special session should voters approve the state question.

Lawmakers could return and refine whatever the Oklahoma State Department of Health develops, Sellars said.

District attorneys have been invited to participate. Oklahoma District Attorneys Council Chairman Kevin Buchanan, district attorney for Nowata and Washington counties, is the point person for prosecutors on the matter.

Buchanan called the measure a “sham for legalized marijuana.”

He said if the measure passes, it will make it difficult for law enforcement to enforce the drug laws on the books.

“I am very concerned that the state question is framed as ‘medicinal marijuana,’ but a close examination of the actual language of the proposition more closely suggests an effort to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma,” said Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.

Chip Paul is the co-founder and chairman of Oklahomans for Health, which successfully circulated an initiative petition to get the measure on the ballot.

“It is almost insurmountable to attack medical marijuana as an issue,” Paul said. “The medical evidence is overwhelming. The only way to defeat the state question like ours is to attack the law. It appears this is exactly the strategy of the ‘no’ side.”