OK: Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana Narrowly Advances From Senate Committee

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A Senate panel on Monday passed a bill that aims to regulate medical marijuana, if voters approve a state question on June 26.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee by a vote of 6-5 advanced Senate Bill 1120 by Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City.

Supporters of medical marijuana successfully obtained the necessary signatures to put a statutory change before voters to legalize medical marijuana. Gov. Mary Fallin put State Question 788 on the ballot.

Some, including Yen, have said that the wording of SQ 788 is too broad and essentially legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

Yen’s bill would not allow for the use of medical marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression. Yen said he couldn’t find data that marijuana was effective in treating those ailments, but other approved conditions could be added later.

The bill would allow usage for neuropathic pain, persistent muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, intractable nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy or loss of weight or appetite due to cancer or HIV/AIDS.

The bill does not include smoking as a certified delivery method, Yen said.

Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said she was concerned the bill was too limited in regard to the conditions that could be treated with marijuana.

Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, said there is a saying in the military that if you lean too far forward, you will fall on your face.

“I am worried we are falling on our face here,” Pugh said. “There are a lot of people outside of this building that feel disconnected, that feel like we don’t hear them, don’t serve them and don’t care about them. I think something like this only serves to further exasperate those feelings.”

Pugh said it was unknown if the state question will pass, but the Legislature was telling people with this legislation that it did not care what the public thought.

Yen said it was not immediately clear if his bill would preempt the state question, should it pass.

Chip Paul is chairman of Oklahomans for Health, which worked to obtain the signatures needed to put it on the ballot.

Paul said supporters followed the law to get it on the ballot outside of the Legislature.

“Any attempts by the Legislature to change the law now, or develop a medical program not consistent with State Question 788, three months in advance of a vote, would set a dangerous constitutional precedent,” Paul said.

Paul said that if the state question passes, it will be the only medical marijuana law in the nation that relies solely on the recommendation of a physician.

“While some seem to view this as more permissive, it is far from that,” Paul said.