Supporters of Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana program are blasting the State Board of Health’s decision today to ban the sale of smokable cannabis. The board’s decision comes just one day after a group representing doctors and pharmacists opposed to medical marijuana legalization held a press conference demanding a ban on all smokable forms of cannabis, among other proposals.
Controversy Erupts Over Decision To Ban Smokable Forms of Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma
Controversy has erupted over the Oklahoma State Board of Health’s decision to add a ban on smokable medical cannabis to the draft rules for the state’s new program.
Critics of the decision say it violates the will of voters, who approved State Question 788 with a 56 percent majority. But those who called for the ban say Oklahoma voters didn’t fully understand the implications of SQ 788.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association lead the call for the ban on smokable forms of cannabis. In a press conference on Monday, OSMA issued three recommendations to limit the program. The presser came just one day before the Dept. of Health met to discuss the draft rules.
In addition to calling for a ban on smokable forms of cannabis, the organization proposed limiting the number of dispensary licenses available. A third proposal sought to require pharmacists to be on staff at dispensaries.
“The majority of Oklahomans do not want dispensaries on every corner or strip mall,” said OSMA president Dr. Jean Hausheer.
Medical Marijuana Advocates Vow To Challenge The Ban on Smokable Cannabis
Ultimately, the board overseeing the State Health Department accepted two of OSMA’s three proposals. They’re banning the sale of smokable flowers and leaves to cannabis patients. The board also added a rule requiring all dispensaries to hire a pharmacist.
The board added the two provisions to a 75-page draft of emergency rules for the program’s implementation.
But they did so in the face of warnings from counsel that the rules could violate SQ 788. And that leaves the rules open to legal challenges.
And legal challenges are exactly what the ACLU of Oklahoma has vowed to bring against the ban.
Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma, tweeted that the ban “just guaranteed litigation.”
New Health Solutions, the trade association for Oklahoma’s cannabis industry, also blasted the board’s decision.
“The Oklahoma State Board of Health today took steps to gut Oklahoma’s fledgling medical cannabis program,” head of New Health Solutions Scott Bud said in a statement.
Patients In Oklahoma Can Still Grow Cannabis For Smoking
The ban on smokable medical marijuana, however, only applies to dispensary sales. Licensed patients can still smoke cannabis they grow in their residence, according to the program’s new rules.
Still, a ban on a common and widely available form of legal medical cannabis could hamstring the state’s new cannabis industry.
There’s a chance the Oklahoma Health Department could revise the rules and lift the ban. The board plans to continue reviewing the rules over the coming months.