With Oklahoma getting ready to vote on medical marijuana this summer, state lawmakers are scrambling to figure out what to do if the vote passes.
Oklahoma Getting Ready To Vote On Medical Marijuana
Legislators’ responses to the announcement about the upcoming vote suggest they’ve been caught somewhat off guard. After all, Oklahoma residents gathered more than 66,000 signatures, the required amount to put an issue on the ballot, back in 2016. It took Republican Governor Mary Fallin more than a year to “fulfill my duty as governor” and decide when the vote would occur.
On Thursday, Gov. Fallin issued a statement setting the referendum on State Question 788 for June 26, the date of the state primary election.
So with Oklahoma getting ready to vote on medical marijuana, the question is whether state representatives will be ready.
“There are so many things that come around,” said State Rep. Bobby Cleveland. “We are going to have to find out how this works.”
“Whether this passes this year, or in 15 or 20 years, we want to be prepared from a law enforcement perspective,” said Mark Woodward, the Public Information Officer of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Statements like these give the impression that state officials haven’t quite come around to the fact that legal medical weed in Oklahoma could be an imminent reality.
At least they’re looking to the right place for advice: Colorado. According to officials, the state is trying to learn everything it can from Colorado’s own implementation of medical cannabis.
June’s Vote Is Just The First Step On A Long Road
Oklahoma voters will vote on Question 788, which legalizes medical cannabis, on June 26. The language of the Question establishes a liberal framework for the law.
Specifically, a yes vote on 788 legalizes the use, sale, and growth of marijuana for medical purposes. Participants in the program need a license. So sellers, growers, packagers, shippers, researchers, and caregivers will all need to obtain licenses.
Patients’ use and possession require an approval from an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician.
The State Health Department will handle medical marijuana licenses. The law specifies that only those 18 and above are eligible for a license. However, the state will grant special exceptions to minors, though requirements for approval are more extensive.
One of the most interesting details of 788, however, has to do with how the state will deal with unlicensed use and possession. If the individual in question can state a qualifying medical condition, they’re only subject to a maximum $400 fine.
Finally, Oklahoma will impose a seven percent tax on all medical cannabis sales.
If voters pass 788 in June, they’ll dramatically change the legal landscape in prohibition-oriented Oklahoma. Major issues need sorting out, however, and it could be months before patients can obtain legal medicine.
To get the ball rolling, representatives with the OBN met in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers to discuss what to do if the referendum passes.
According to sources, the meeting focused on revamping the OBN budget to make resources available for regulation and enforcement. Other issues also surfaced, such as whether the state would permit public consumption of medical weed.