On June 26th, 2018, Oklahoma voters will decide the fate of State Question 788, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
The proposal would legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Oklahoma, but in order to obtain a state-issued medical marijuana license this would require a board-certified physician’s signature.
The state question states there would be no specific qualifying conditions to receive medical marijuana. “People with licenses would be permitted to possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person and eight ounces of marijuana in their residence,” the measure’s ballot title said.
“A seven percent tax would be levied on marijuana sales, with revenue being allocated to administrative costs, education, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Licenses would be required to operate dispensaries, commercial growing operations, and processing operations. Municipalities would be prohibited from restricting zoning laws to prevent marijuana dispensaries.”
In order to obtain a license, an individual 18 years old or older who wants to obtain a medical marijuana license would need a board-certified physician’s signature.
“An individual under the age of 18 would need the signatures of two physicians and his or her parent or legal guardian. There would be no qualifying conditions, but a doctor would be required to sign according to, ‘accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.”
To purchase one, a license would cost $100 and last two years. Recipients of Medicaid, Medicare, or SoonerCare would pay $20 for a license. A Caregiver license would also be available.
For some, the bill seems like a positive addition to the state.
“At this point there is no excuse or reason why it remains illegal,” said working Cody Carter. “No counter argument can hold ground without staggering comparisons to alcohol, cigarettes, or prescription abuse.”
Carter said the plant isn’t a ‘miracle all-fixer,’ but added that overall, he feels its an extremely useful tool and a safer alternative in treatment.
“CBD oils have been studied to offer incredibly beneficial effects when administered,” he said. “There are numerous cases of the various forms of marijuana and its derivatives being used to treat seizures, migraines, body aches, and loss of appetite among other issues.”
Carter isn’t alone in support of the bill.
As of February 9th, two political action committees had registered to support State Question 788—Vote Yes On 788 and Oklahomans for Health SQ 788.
Americans for Equal Liberty operating as Vote No OK 788 recently formed to oppose the state question. The first campaign finance filing for 2018 ballot measure PACs was due on January 31, 2018.
According to ballotpedia.com, “Oklahomans for Health, led the signature petition effort. Leaders within Oklahomans for Health became chairpersons for the two separate PACs registered to support State Question 788.
If the proposal is defeated, that leaves concerns for those in need for health reasons.
For student, Brittany Holland, who asked that her name be changed, the proposal has benefits. “I’ve seen a lot of people praise it as an alternative to a lot of medications,” she said.
Holland smokes ‘recreationally’ but said the real reason she uses it is for anxiety issues she’s had since her childhood.
“I was diagnosed with a panic disorder in high school and used to have panic attacks almost daily. I’ve been put on every prescription, or anti anxiety medication out there and they all had terrible side effects,” she said. “I have never been more depressed than when I was on anti anxiety meds. I use marijuana because it is the only thing I have ever tried that treats my anxiety without having negative side effects.”
Holland lost her father a year ago to liver disease.
“He couldn’t take pain meds because of it and he was in an extreme amount of pain toward the end of his life,” she said.
“I used to smoke with him when I would visit and he would always talk about how it relieved his pain and even gave him an appetite again,”she said.
Like Carter, Holland thinks it would be beneficial not only for people with epilepsy and chronic seizures, but people with chronic illnesses and constant pain.
Under the state question, “the department will issue seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research and caregiver licenses. Individual and retail businesses must meet minimum requirements to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees.”
If someone sells medical marijuana unlicensed, the the punishment for individuals who can state a medical condition is a fine not exceeding $400.
The state question would also establish fees and zoning restrictions and set a seven percent state tax on medical marijuana sales.
Though there lies perks in the recreational drug, there are underlying restrictions to receiving them.
This has created frustration for some of the voters.
Student Cale Cline, who has also changed his name, is livid about the restrictions when prescribed.
“What they don’t tell you is that one of the facets of the law of it is approved is that a physician can’t prescribe it for mental illness or pain management.” Cline said.
“Conservative Republicans don’t want it legalized so they are putting safe guards in the bill to make sure that if it does pass that they can squash it,” he said.
Cline said that pain management and mental deficiencies (anxiety, depression) are two of of the biggest reasons to prescribe medical marijuana.
He feels the bill would become pointless to those truly in need of it.
With positives and negatives, State Question 788 raises eyebrows in a conservative state.
With those in favor, to raise awareness, and a health changing impact, with those against, to dilute and potentially raise more health care risks, addictions, and community issues.
Until then, Oklahoma waits for June to arrive for the final decision.