Oklahoma Cannabis Bill 788 Dispensary - MMJ - Marijuana - NORML

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Oklahoma State Question 788, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was on the ballot in Oklahoma as an initiated state statute on June 26, 2018. It was approved.[1][2]

Proponents of this initiative referred to it as the Medical Cannabis Initiative.

A "yes" vote supported this measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use, and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
A "no" vote opposed this measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use, and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

This page is an overview of State Question 788. Ballotpedia has compiled details about the proposal, the text of the measure, supporters and opponents, arguments for and against, campaign finance information, background on the status of medical marijuana, and how the measure got on the ballot. Click the links below for detailed analysis of each aspect.

Election results

Oklahoma State Question 788: Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Result Votes Percentage

Approved Yes

507,582 56.86%
No 385,176 43.14%
Precincts reporting: 100%
Source

Medical marijuana program emergency rules

Oklahoma State Department of Health, which is responsible for establishing regulations for the implementation of State Question 788, released a draft of proposed rules on July 8, 2018.[3]

On July 9, 2018, Dr. Jean Hausheer, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, criticized the state's draft of proposed rules to govern the new medical marijuana industry. Hausheer said that members of the medical community demanded three more rules, as follows:[4]

  • Ban all smokable forms of cannabis to ensure marijuana is administered in forms that are easily measured in doses, such as edibles and oils;
  • Require pharmacists to be present in dispensaries as part of the approval process; and
  • Limit the number of dispensaries to 50.

On July 10, 2018, the Oklahoma Board of Health voted 5-4 to ban smokable marijuana products at dispensaries and require licensed pharmacists to be on-site at dispensaries.[5]

After the vote, Rep. Jason Lowe (D-97) said in a press release, "The Oklahoma State Department of Health has enacted law that undermines one of the most participated-in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state. Today's decision is an affront to democracy and an insult to the law-abiding citizens that showed up to vote for this initiative. "In order to ensure that the will of the people is protected from bureaucracy and to save the state from yet another embarrassing lawsuit, I am calling on the governor to immediately call for a special session so that the elected leaders of this state can implement the law as instructed by the citizens of Oklahoma."[5]

Chip Paul, co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, one of the support committees for the initiative, said, "It was clearly the intent in [State Question] 788 that we have smokable marijuana. As the general counsel stated, that should be obvious to everyone. We never intended for a pharmacist to be on-site at a dispensary."[5]

On July 12, 2018, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) accepted the regulations proposed by the Board of Health.[5]

Emergency rules for the medical marijuana program were signed by Fallin on August 6, 2018. The rules did not contain the provisions banning smokable marijuana or requiring a pharmacist to be present at the dispensaries.[6]

Lawsuits

Two lawsuits have been filed against the state of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Health. One lawsuit was brought by eight people in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. The second lawsuit was brought by Green the Vote, a group sponsoring two proposed ballot initiatives for the 2018 ballot in Oklahoma: the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Constitutional Amendment Initiative, State Question 796 and the Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization Constitutional Amendment Initiative, State Question 797.[7]

Green the Vote v. the State of Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Department of Health, and board members

  
Lawsuit overview
Issue: Whether regulations on medical marijuana voted for by 5 Oklahoma Department of Health Board Members and approved by Governor Mary Fallin destroy the intent of the initiative, whether board members and the governor held a secret meeting which violates the Open Meetings Act
Court: Filed in the district court in and for Oklahoma County
Ruling:
Plaintiff(s): Green the Vote Defendant(s): The State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, The Oklahoma Department of Health, and board members of the Oklahoma Department of Health
Plaintiff argument:
Governor Fallin and five board members named as defendants held a secret meeting before voting to ban smokable marijuana products at dispensaries and require licensed pharmacists to be on-site at dispensaries, which "destroy the intent [of State Question 788]."[7] The rules approved by Fallin are arbitrary and capricious and should be declared invalid.
Defendant argument:
Unknown as of July 16, 2018
  Source: Green the Vote Court Filings

Ronald Durbin, an attorney for Green the Vote, said, “We believe we have evidence that there were behind the scenes negotiations and discussions among certain members that we’ve named in this lawsuit to bring forth the amendments that essentially destroy the intent of 788."[7]

Dahn Gregg, et al. v. the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Health

  
Lawsuit overview
Issue: Whether regulations on medical marijuana voted for by 5 Oklahoma Department of Health Board Members and approved by Governor Mary Fallin interfere with or threaten to interfere with the rights of the plaintiffs, whether the board members had the authority to promulgate such emergency rules
Court: Filed in the district court of Cleveland County
Ruling:
Plaintiff(s): Dahn Gregg, et al. Defendant(s): The State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Health
Plaintiff argument:
The Board of Health does not have authority to promulgate emergency rules, the rules interfere (or threaten to interfere) or impair the legal rights and privileges of the Plaintiffs. The rules should not be enacted.
Defendant argument:
Unknown as of July 16, 2018
  Source: Court Filings

 

Responses and reactions to the lawsuits
  • Daren Ward, the chairman of the Oklahoma County Republican Party said in response to the lawsuit, “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. 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.”[8]
  • David McLain, the chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party said, “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.”[8]
  • Sen. Greg Treat (R-47), the Oklahoma State Senate majority leader, said, “The Oklahoma Senate will not undo the will of voters, who spoke loudly by passing State Question 788. 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.”[8]
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter (R), wrote in a letter to Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates, "The board promulgated serveral rules in excess of its statutory authority... The board overstepped its authority when it imposed licensing requirements that conflict with the statute voters approved... I have no doubt that the board in good faith sought to regulate marijuana in a manner it believed would best promote the health and safety of Oklahomans. However, in so doing, the board made policy judgments not authorized by statute. Those policy decisions are the exclusive prerogative of the legislature and the People. It is therefore my judgement that the Board reconvene to reconsider the rules … in a manner consistent with the advice of this letter.”[9]

Overview

Page 1: What does State Question 788 do?

State Question 788 legalized marijuana, also known as cannabis, for medical purposes in Oklahoma. The measure required a state-issued medical marijuana license to have a board-certified physician's signature. The measure required no specific qualifying conditions to receive medical marijuana. The measure allowed people with licenses to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana on their person and 8 ounces of marijuana in their residence. A 7 percent tax was levied on marijuana sales, with revenue allocated to administrative costs, education, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. The measure required licenses to operate dispensaries, commercial growing operations, and processing operations. The measure prohibited municipalities from restricting zoning laws to prevent marijuana dispensaries.[1] ...

... Continue reading about what State Question 788 would do.
Ballotpedia's series on Oklahoma State Question 788
Overview
Page 1: What does State Question 788 do?
Page 2: What are supporters and opponents saying and who are they?
Page 3: Who's spending money on SQ 788 and how much?
Page 4: What is the status and background of medical marijuana?
Page 5: How did SQ 788 get on the ballot?
Page 6: How to vote on SQ 788?

Page 2: What are supporters and opponents saying and who are they?

Support

Oklahomans for Health—a 501(c)(4) organization—led the signature petition drive to put this initiative on the ballot and supported the campaigns advocating for a "yes" vote. Two political action committees (PAC) are registered to support State Question 788: Vote Yes on 788 and Oklahomans for Health SQ 788.[10][11][12]

Opposition

Americans for Equal Liberty operating as Vote No OK788 led the campaign in opposition to State Question 788.[13]

Oklahomans Against 788 opposed the measure. Their Facebook page said "We oppose State Question 788-Medical Marijuana. We feel this is bad for Oklahoma and will only lead to problems. We will defeat Oklahoma State Question 788 simply by using the very words in it."[14] Oklahomans Against 788 co-chair, August Rivera, said: "It is not good for Oklahoma. It is not good for our children. There's not enough science and research behind it for me to actually say and be on board with medical marijuana."[15] Oklahomans Against 788 attended a forum on State Question 788 on April 19, 2018, hosted by the Heartland Republican Women's Club to speak against the initiative.[15]

Arguments in favor

Supporters argued that legalizing medical marijuana use would help patients in need, prevent the purchasing of marijuana illegally to treat illness, allow for proper restrictions and regulations, and prevent wasting taxpayer dollars on enforcement of prohibition. They also argued that any person—with the guidance of a doctor—should have the individual freedom to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Arguments against

Opponents argued that State Question 788 would not provide enough restrictions and would, in effect, amount to recreational marijuana legalization. Opponents argued that the initiative should—but does not—provide a list of qualifying conditions, allow employers to use drug tests for marijuana, restrict where dispensaries can be located, make the amount of marijuana that can legally be possessed by a license holder smaller, restrict personal cultivation of marijuana, and establish other restrictions to prevent the abuse of medical prescriptions for those without a medical need. ...

...Continue reading about the support of and opposition to State Question 788.

Page 3: Who's spending money on SQ 788 and how much?

As of August 4, 2018, the committees registered in support of State Question 788 had reported raising $31,629.82, and the opposition committee had not reported any contributions. Oklahomans for Health, a 501(c)(4) organization, led the signature petition effort. The committees registered in opposition to State Question 788 had reported expenditures totaling $815,632.50[16]

Oklahomans for Health spent $26,988 on the signature petition drive that qualified State Question 788 for the ballot in 2016. This amount is not included in the campaign finance information above.[17] ...

...Continue reading about campaign finance for State Question 788.

Page 4: What is the status and background of medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana in Oklahoma and the other states:

Going into this election, the possession and medical use of marijuana was illegal in Oklahoma. As of October 2017, 30 states and Washington, D.C., had passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana, and cannabis oil was legal in an additional 15 states, including Oklahoma. In 2015, Oklahoma authorized clinical trials of cannabis oil for persons 18 years of age or younger with severe forms of epilepsy. In 2016, the age cap was removed and clinical trials were expanded to cover other specific diseases and conditions.[18][19]

Medical marijuana at the federal level

While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level as of 2018, enforcement of federal marijuana laws had not been strictly implemented against state-legal medical marijuana as of February. On January 4, 2018, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, a 2013 directive that deprioritized the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana had been legalized. This allowed federal prosecutors to make decisions individually concerning enforcement of marijuana.[20][21]

In December 2014, Congress passed the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (now called the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment) as part of a budget bill and renewed the amendment each year through 2017. The amendment prohibits federal agents from raiding medical marijuana growers in states where medical marijuana is legal, effectively allowing states to legalize medical marijuana. In May 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress asking legislators to deny recertification to the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. Following seven temporary continuations of the amendment—including in September 2017, on December 8 and December 22 of 2017, and on January 22, 2018—Congress passed another temporary continuation of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment on February 9, 2018, that extended it through March 23, 2018.[22] ...

...Continue reading about the background of medical marijuana policy

Page 5: How did SQ 788 get on the ballot?

State Question 788 was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition effort. Proponents needed to collect 65,987 valid signatures within 90 days of their petition being cleared for circulation. State Question 778 was filed with the secretary of state's office on April 11, 2016. Oklahomans for Health sponsored the petition. The secretary of state set the start date of the petition drive for May 14, 2016, which means Oklahomans for Health had until August 11, 2016, to collect the required signatures. Signatures for the measure were verified in September 2016, initially targeting the November 2016 ballot. However, the date of signature submission, a rewrite of the ballot title, and an ensuing court battle meant the initiative was not certified for the 2016 ballot. On March 27, 2017, the Oklahoma Supreme Court resolved the lawsuit, ruling in favor of Oklahomans for Health. On January 4, 2018, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued a proclamation setting the primary election on June 26, 2018, as the election date for the initiative. A governor had not selected a date different from the general election for an initiative since 2005.

Cost of signature collection:
Ballotpedia found no petition companies that received payment from the sponsors of this measure, which means signatures were likely gathered largely by volunteers. A total of $26,988.00 was spent to collect the 65,987 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $0.41.[23] ...

...Continue reading about the path to the ballot for State Question 788.

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