OK: Medical Marijuana Poses Uncertainty

Photo Credit: Getty Images

On Tuesday, Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana.

However, what that means moving forward is still unclear for both Oklahoma and this bill. Despite State Question 788 passing with a 56 percent majority, Gov. Mary Fallin has said that she and legislative leaders will be discussing “regulatory framework” for the bill, as she believes it is too loose.

“I’m not surprised that it passed on a statewide level … Now it’s going to come down to what’s going to happen to the bill. Is it going to stay the way it is, or will the legislature convene for a special session and modify it, and at this point I just don’t know yet,” said Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan.

Of 10,509 Stephens County voters, 55 percent voted against the bill, including 23 of the 28 precincts.

“I wish I knew what was going to happen, but I really don’t. I think a lot of legislators are going to be really hesitant to change the bill at all because the people voted for this bill, and I’m going to assume that everybody knew what they were voting on,” said McEntire. “I have to trust the people, that’s my job … I think that the people have spoken, and it’s the legislator’s job to enact the will of the people, and that’s what I plan on doing.”

As the bill stands, here are some of the rules that will be imposed:

• Only doctors of medicine or osteopathic medicine, whose Oklahoma license is in “good standing” can provide medical marijuana treatment recommendations.

• Pregnant women are barred from obtaining a medical marijuana license. Licenses for medical marijuana patients would cost $100, unless they have Medicaid, Medicare or SoonerCare, in which case they will cost $20.

• A patient must be at least 18 to receive a license. The license would last for two years in Oklahoma.

• Licensed patients may grow marijuana and can legally possess six mature plants and six seedlings.

• Possession of up to one-and-a-half ounces of marijuana with a medical condition, but without a license, will receive a misdemeanor offense and a $400 fine.

• Licensed patients may possess up to three ounces of marijuana on them, and up to eight ounces at their residence.

• Because the legislation does not specify diseases that may be treated, it is at the discretion of an Oklahoma board-certified physician to use their medical judgment in recommending marijuana treatment.

• An employer would not be able to take action against a licensed patient who tests positive for marijuana unless the employer would “imminently lose monetary or licensing benefit under federal law” or if the employee used marijuana on company premises or during work hours.

• A 7 percent excise tax would fund the state’s medical marijuana activities, with 75 percent of surplus going to common education and 25 percent going to the state department of health for drug and alcohol rehab funding.

• There are three operating license fees: $2,500 for dispensary license, $2,500 for commercial grower license, $2,500 for a processing license. Only Oklahoma residents may be licensed.

• Anyone with a nonviolent felony conviction within two years or any other felony within five years is not eligible for a license to grow, process, transport or research medical marijuana.

• Marijuana would be like tobacco when it comes to smoking or consuming in public places. It could not be consumed around minors.

• A patient license may be revoked or suspended if the patient is cited for driving under the influence of marijuana.

• Patients cultivating their own marijuana must keep plants locked up.

• Felons would be precluded from commercial licenses related to medical marijuana.

• Dispensaries would not be open Sundays.

State Question 788 legalizes the license use, sale and growth of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and people can start applying for their medical marijuana license through the state department in a month’s time.