A Tulsa police officer whose wife is a city councilor has taken to social media to say he favors legalizing medical marijuana.
“In 23 years, 6 months, 8 days, 3 hours, 22 minutes and 28 29 30 … seconds of my law enforcement career, I have never had a negative encounter with someone high on marijuana,” Sgt. Marcus Harper wrote on his personal Facebook page Monday night. “All they want to do is sit down and eat. I’m voting YES on 788.”
Oklahoma voters go to the polls Tuesday to vote in local and statewide elections. No issue has drawn more attention, however, than State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana.
Law enforcement organizations, including the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, are opposed to 788 in part because of the likely increase in impaired driving it would produce. Oklahoma statutes offer zero-tolerance for any driver who tests positive for THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, or its metabolites.
But Harper told the Tulsa World on Tuesday morning that such opposition is simply the “politically correct” thing to say.
“They’re not supposed to drink and drive, and people still do it,” Harper said. “You are not supposed to take prescription medicine and drive, but people still do it.
“When you put everything together, officers typically have more problems with people who are drunk, who are high on illicit drugs like cocaine, PCP, methamphetamines, things like that. Those are the drugs that give us the most problems.”
Harper, who leads homicide investigations, says he has seen people killed over the sale of all kinds of illegal drugs, including marijuana. Legalizing the drug would make purchasing it safe and remove the criminal element that currently supplies it to the public.
“It’s Prohibition 2018, that’s what it is, … so I am not buying that this is going to cause us a whole lot of problems,” he said. “People are going to smoke marijuana. They just do.”
Harper also has a more personal reason for supporting the State Question 788. He said a friend and former Tulsa police officer, Bob Johnson, moved to Colorado so his child, who has seizures, could be treated with cannabis.
“The only thing that helps his kid was medical marijuana, so if this is going to help one person, if it’s going to help a couple of people, with PTSD, cancer patients, other medical issues, then why not?” Harper said.
Harper said he understands the medical marijuana measure could need refining, but he took issue with those who argue the state question is too liberal.
“It’s going to be legal. That’s the trend,” Harper said. “So why should we be put behind the 8 ball and act like we are so much holier than thou. Come on, guys.”
Harper said he wasn’t sure why his post had drawn the attention it has. Asked why he posted it, he said, “I just did.”
For the record, his wife, City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, said Tuesday that she is also in favor of State Question 788.
“I believe that it has been medically proven that medical marijuana has medicinal benefits,” Hall-Harper told the Tulsa World.