Cannabis has been a pressing issue in Oklahoma lately. Earlier this summer, voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana. Since then, the state has been moving fast to implement the new program. As Oklahoma begins the medical marijuana approval process, issuing its first patient licenses, the state has taken a big step toward making medical marijuana a reality.
Oklahoma and Medical Marijuana
Last weekend was a potential landmark for medical marijuana in Oklahoma. On Saturday, the state’s medical marijuana application system went online. It was instantly flooded with applications from patients, businesses, and caregivers.
According to the Associated Press, it was a big first day. In particular, the state received 1,054 applications from patients, 634 applications from business hopefuls, and three more applications from potential caregivers.
By the end of the day, the state had received around $1.5 million in application fees.
On the same day, the state also started issuing its first round of licenses. Over the weekend, authorities gave licenses to 23 patients.
This first small round of licenses was reportedly completed mostly as a way of testing the state’s system for receiving and reviewing applications, and for issuing licenses. If authorities are satisfied with the online system’s weekend performance, they plan to resume issuing licenses this week.
So far, the state’s online application portal seems to be working well. By the end of the weekend, state officials reported only a couple of minor errors. The main issue was that people with Yahoo and iCloud email accounts didn’t receive automated confirmation emails. The glitch was apparently fixed quickly.
The weekend’s licensing activity was the latest chapter in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana drama. Earlier this summer, voters approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana.
Despite winning the majority vote, the bill still faced significant opposition that carried over, even after the vote.
In particular, there was a lot of back and forth as advocacy groups and lawmakers attempted to make various amendments and revisions to the medical marijuana program. One of the biggest debates centered on whether or not the state would allow smokable marijuana.
Shortly after voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana, there was a surge of voices calling for the ban of smokable cannabis. The Oklahoma State Board of Health actually issued a ban on smokable medical marijuana.
The Board said that actual bud or other plant matter should not be allowed in dispensaries. It said it would still allow patients to grow their own smokable cannabis at home.
However, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin struck down that ban earlier this month when she signed a number of revised regulations.
The revised set of rules signed by Gov. Fallin did not include a ban on smokable marijuana. Similarly, the new rules also got rid of an attempt to require every dispensary to have a pharmacist on site.
For proponents of medical marijuana, Gov. Fallin’s revisions were important steps to ensure that medical marijuana is accessible to a broad range of patients.
Now that the state’s application system is up and running, the state can start officially issuing licenses. Advocates of medical marijuana hope to see marijuana sales begin sometime in the near future.