Oklahomans Eying Medical Marijuana Vote Worry About Addiction While Others Are Eager For Treatment

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Oklahoma voters on June 26 will decide if the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes should be legal.

Some polls suggest State Question 788, which would create a regulatory and licensing system for medical marijuana, is likely to pass, but many Oklahomans like Pam Hayes of Kansas, a small town in the eastern part of the state, intend to vote ‘no.’

Hayes, a school librarian, said measure’s language is too broadly written.

“Marijuana has been around here and predominant for many, many many years and I never knew anyone that said they needed marijuana for their migraine headaches,” Hayes said.

If voters sign off on SQ 788, Hayes thinks people who want to use marijuana recreationally will claim a medical condition to find a doctor’s support for a medical license.

“I worry about the impact over time and the mentality that it creates,” she said, noting that doctors are being criticized for over-prescribing prescription pain medications like opioids. “I grew up here. A lot of the people that I knew, that’s what they started with. They started with marijuana, and they just graduated into something else and then they’re addicted to something more severe.”

Living with pain

Other Oklahomans are eagerly watching the outcome of the June 26 vote. At their home outside of Mannford, Shaunna and Michael Oliver are hoping voters approve SQ 788. Shaunna Oliver said she’s tired of living with pain from fibromyalgia, diabetes, osteoarthritis, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“When I did travel to visit my mom and check out the medical marijuana in Colorado, it helped a lot,” she said. “It calmed me down; my nerves weren’t as bad …  and it took all the pain from arthritis away.”

Shaunna said medical marijuana could help people living with chronic pain, and help them break their dependence on opiates and other drugs with far worse side effects. Her husband Michael said SQ 788 passing would help more people than it will hurt.

“There’s always going to be abuse of anything,” he said. “It’s always about responsibility. It’s something for people that need it. That’s the bottom line.”