Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma on Monday approved and signed revised regulations that exclude a number of obstructive proposals for the state’s new medical marijuana program. The emergency rules were approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Health last week. The regulations will govern the implementation of State Question 788, a medical marijuana initiative approved by voters on June 26.
“These rules are very basic, and represent the best option in developing a proper regulatory framework for medical marijuana, with the highest priority given to the health and safety of Oklahomans,” Fallin said in a press release.
Controversial Amendments Removed
Fallin noted that the regulations she approved do not include controversial amendments the board added to rules proposed by the state’s health department. Those changes would have banned the sale of smokable cannabis and required a licensed pharmacist to be on site at each medical marijuana dispensary. These amendments had originally been approved by the governor.
“These rules do not include the two last-minute amendments to the initial rules that I asked the Board of Health to rescind because the public didn’t have sufficient time to review and comment on them,” said Fallin. “I appreciate the board’s decision to concur with my request. They also follow the guidelines from the attorney general on staying within the jurisdiction of statute language of State Question 788.”
The new regulations also eliminate a requirement for women of child-bearing age to obtain a pregnancy test before a doctor could write a medical marijuana recommendation for them.
Medical marijuana advocates, lawmakers, and Attorney General Mike Hunter had come out in opposition to the original rules adopted by the board on July 10. On July 18, Hunter advised in a release that the amendments were in violation of the initiative approved by voters.
“The current rules contain provisions that are inconsistent with the plain language of State Question 788 and the State Board of Health acted outside of its authority when it voted to implement them,” Hunter said. “Although I didn’t support State Question 788, the people of the state have spoken and I have a legal duty to honor the decision made by the electorate.”
“Moving forward, I encourage all stakeholders to engage with the legislative working group looking at medical marijuana to ensure they have their concerns and recommendations heard and addressed by the legislature,” Hunter added.
Legislative Action Next
Fallin said that with the emergency rules approved, it is now up to the state legislature to craft the permanent regulations. A special committee has already been formed to begin the process.
“My approval of these rules moves medical marijuana to the realm of our Legislature,” said Fallin. “I’m glad the Legislature has a bipartisan group meeting weekly to move the state forward in developing the intent of what the public voted for with the passage of State Question 788—making marijuana available to Oklahomans who need it solely for medical reasons.”
The governor concluded by saying the success of the medical marijuana program depended on its regulatory infrastructure.
“There are many opinions on how medical marijuana should be implemented in our state,” Fallin said. “I encourage vivid discussion to develop policy proposals to make sure we have a medical marijuana regulatory framework in place that improves the health of Oklahomans who are sick and makes the business side work while protecting the safety of Oklahomans.”