Oklahoma Republicans Join Fight Against Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Republicans aren’t happy with Oklahoma’s medical marijuana restrictions.
Oklahoma Republicans Join Fight Against Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Republican Party groups in Oklahoma have joined the fight against restrictions added by regulators to the state’s new medical marijuana program. On June 26, voters passed State Question 788 (SQ 788) by a margin of 57-43 percent. The measure legalizes the medicinal use of cannabis in the state and creates a regulated supply chain to provide medicine to patients.

But then last week, the Oklahoma State Board of Health (OSBH) slapped controversial restrictions on proposed rules to govern the program. One bans the sale of smokable forms of marijuana in dispensaries, while another requires that cannabis providers have a licensed pharmacist on site.

The Fight Begins

Almost immediately, activists and some individual lawmakers vowed to fight the board’s restrictions. So far, at least two lawsuits have been filed to challenge the rules in court.

“We will absolutely throw the book at them with class-action lawsuits on behalf of patients. We won’t be railroaded,” said Chip Paul of the advocacy group Oklahomans for Health.

“We simply want our state question implemented and properly regulated,” he added.

A press release from Oklahomans for Health called on legislators to join the fight to “reinstate the will of the people and do whatever is needed to oust the bureaucratic authoritarians within the Oklahoma State Board of Health.”

And now, local Republican Party groups have answered the call for support. Daren Ward, the chairman of the Oklahoma County Republican Party, called for swift action from the courts.

“We ask that they move as quickly as possible to resolve this matter. Our country is a constitutional republic, and state government, under the United States Constitution and its amendments, is supposed to respect the voice of the people and due process,” Ward said. “Last week’s actions by the OSBH are truly repugnant. Not only did they show no regard for the will of the people, but that they are truly part of the governmental swamp that seeks to legislate outside the republican form of government.”

David McLain, the Tulsa County Republican Party chairman, said the board and Gov. Mary Fallin, who approved the amended regulations, have usurped the rights of voters.

“The ‘we know better attitude’ expressed by the OSBH and the shocking approval by our current governor shows contempt for the liberties and the rights we express at the ballot box as citizens,” said McLain. “I call on all Republicans to contact your legislators, from either party and ask for a quick resolution to this desecration of the citizens’ voice.”

Lawmaker Vows to Restore the Will of Voters

Sen. Greg Treat, the Senate majority floor leader, said that lawmakers will come together to protect the initiative.

“The Oklahoma Senate will not undo the will of voters, who spoke loudly by passing State Question 788,” said Treat. “While the Health Department and its commissioner did yeoman’s work in drafting emergency rules, the Board of Health’s adoption of last-minute amendments without public comments has undermined the public’s confidence in the system. Lawmakers have the ability to amend this law as we move forward to address any issues which may arise.”

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