Updated on August 29, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Voters said “yes” to State Question 788 in June 2018, making medical marijuana legal for patients with a medicinal cannabis card. Patients, caregivers and businesses may apply for a medical cannabis license by August 25, 2018. Learn more about the state of the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma.
The State Government’s Stance on Marijuana
A few facts about the Oklahoma state government and its stance on cannabis include the following:
- The 2018 NORML Governors Scorecard gave Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin a grade of D+. She passed some marijuana-positive laws, but she had very negative comments on cannabis.
- However, the state legislature did enact a law allowing CBD treatment for epilepsy in 2015.
- Before the passage of SQ 788, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control released a document called “Facts About Medical Marijuana.” It presented negative statistics about cannabis medicine and information about SQ 788.
- The Board of Health approved the upcoming medical marijuana program’s emergency rules on July 10, 2018. But, the Attorney General issued a letter to them on July 18. This letter stated that the Board overstepped its authority by creating rules that didn’t align with the will of voters. The Board revised the rules to include fewer limitations on August 6.
State Question 788
Here are a few facts about State Question 788:
- During the June 2018 state election, 507,582 (56.86%) of voters voted “yes” for SQ 788, while 385,176 (43.14%) voted “no.”
- When voters approved of SQ 788, Oklahoma became the 30th state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana.
- Oklahomans for Cannabis, formerly known as Oklahomans for Health, organized the SQ 788 initiative.
- The SQ 788 website features an annotated version of the document that explains the logic behind each section.
- Contrary to many states’ medical cannabis laws, SQ 788 proposed a program without qualifying conditions. It instead leaves the decision up to the recommending physician. They simply have to use the same standards they would for pharmaceutical medicine.
Criminalization and Discrimination
The laws related to criminalization and discrimination can be a bit confusing in medically legal states. In Oklahoma, the following is true:
- Anyone who has a felony charge in recent years cannot apply to sell, grow, produce or research medical marijuana — this policy came from SQ 788 itself. According to the annotated version, Oklahomans for Cannabis included this section so the legislature would not impose harsher regulations.
- Unfortunately, someone convicted with marijuana sale, distribution or cultivation charges can receive life in jail. Even small amounts can have this punishment. All sales and distribution penalties also count as felonies. Due to SQ 788’s limitations, nonviolent felony offenders can’t participate in the medical marijuana industry for two years. Meanwhile, incarcerated people can’t get a commercial license at all.
- While Oklahoma has a 7.6 percent population of black people, 6 percent of marijuana arrests involve a black person. This disproportionate ratio makes them more vulnerable to cannabis-related felony charges and incarceration.
- Arrests related to marijuana possession spiked in Oklahoma in 2016. The Oklahoma Policy Institute speculates that this trend could have to do with that year’s ballot initiatives. SQ 780 and SQ 781 would reclassify certain drug crimes and calculate the resulting budget savings.
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