Following closely on the heels of other states, Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana on June 26, 2018. The state questions was introduced on the Oklahoma primary ballot after a years-long battle between proponents of the plant and the state’s government. Like the many before it, Oklahoma joined the quickly-growing list of states where those who suffer from a wide range of debilitating ailments can finally, hopefully, find some relief without the often-dangerous side-effects being constantly force-fed by big pharmaceutical conglomerates.
Pushback from the Governor
It’s no secret that Mary Fallin, commonly referred to by her constituents as “Mary Failin’,” is adamantly opposed to the idea of legalization. It’s also no secret why. You see, it just so happens that good ol’ Mary is in the back pocket of the for-profit prison industry. Between 2016 and December 2017, Fallin received contributions totaling upwards of $77,000 from corrections companies and lobbyists, including $46,000 from Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and Avalon Correctional Services. And, of course, marijuana possession accounted for more than 45.5% of Oklahoma’s arrests in 2002, according to an Oklahoma Gazette analysis. And with harsh sentences (1 year in jail for first offense possession of marijuana, and felony 2-10 years behind bars for a second), that’s a nice little trade Mary has going. It would be such a shame to topple that little empire, wouldn’t it? But, topple it did!
Beginning in 2014, Oklahomans for Health began an all-out push for legalization by collecting signatures in an effort to get medical marijuana on the state ballot, the first necessary step in legalization. According to Oklahoma law, 65,000 signatures are needed in order to get a state question placed on the ballot. That original initiative did not gain the necessary number of signatures. In 2015, however, another group, Green the Vote, announced a new petition drive. This time the initiative did gain the required number of signatures, but the battle was far from over. In an attempt to mislead Oklahomans, the states Attorney General took it upon himself to change the verbiage of the initiative, causing a lawsuit by Oklahomans for Health. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the original language be restored, and the vote was pushed to 2018.
The morning on June 26, 2018 brought the Oklahoma citizenry out in droves. People were lined up at polling stations to cast their ballots for, or against, SQ 788. Sure, there were other items on the ballot (the gubernatorial race and would-be senators among them) but State Question 788 was the hot topic of the day. Unfortunately for voters there appeared to be some foul play going on, as in many jurisdictions voters were reporting that they were not offered the separate ballot containing the state question. This was, of course, a blatant illegality and was quickly corrected by the state election board.
As the day wore on, the numbers remained in close proximity to one another, begging the question of which side would actually come out ahead. By that evening, however, it was becoming clear that the measure would pass, leading the way to much-needed revenue for the state, and even greater-needed relief for many of its citizens. When the polls closed, an astounding 891,654 people had “Rocked the Vote,” with 56.8% voting for the measure.
SQ788 in a Nutshell
The basic gist of the state question is this: Once you get a medical doctor (they must be a board certified physician) to recommend you for a medical marijuana patient card, you have to fill an application with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and, once the application is approved, pay a $100 fee to get your card. From there it’s a matter of going to a dispensary and filling your prescription. But what if you don’t want to deal with a dispensary? No problem, says SQ788.
Medical marijuana patients can have up to six (6) mature plants and six (6) seedling plants for their own use (but you have to have it behind a 6-foot privacy fence, with locked gates, and the plants cannot be visible from any roadway). I’m pretty sure plants can grow more than six feet tall, though, so I guess you’ll have to be careful and not let them get too big (seems wasteful to me, honestly).
Opponents and Idiocy
Yeah, any time there’s a controversial issue at stake, the idiots come swarming out of the woodwork with ridiculous claims and ludicrous stories. This time is no different. Of course, we’ve all heard many of the claims against this particular issue:
- It’s a gateway drug. First you inject marijuanas, and then next thing you know… BAM! You’re a full-blown heroin addict.
- People will be coming to work stoned out of their gourds and won’t be able to flip those burgers without blowing up the building and seriously maiming someone.
- Drivers..dear God, the drivers. They’ll be all over the roads, swerving and speeding and causing all sorts of ruckus and accidents.
No. Just… no! These are all so blatantly false that they, and the morons who promote them, are pathetic. People who smoke marijuana do not speed around the highways. They do not automatically move on to other drugs. They do not, for the most part, show up to work under the influence, and if they do, guess what? Deal with them just like you would if they show up drunk. Blame the idiot, not the medication!
For now, we wait. The state is working on guidelines and, hopefully soon, will begin accepting applications. I know, I know. It’s your weed and you want it now! Hold your horses, buckaroo. There’s a lot to be done, infrastructure to put in place, rules to adopt (we don’t want the public running rampant, now do we? It will take a little bit, but they’re currently saying about a month-ish. Oklahoma has waited for how long? What’s another month or two?
So, what do you think? Are you a citizen of Oklahoma and have something to say, one way or another, about SQ788 and Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law? Chime in below and let us know.
As of today the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the people chosen to oversee the implementation of SQ788, have apparently released their finalized rules, to include a “ban on smokeable marijuana being sold in dispensaries.” Of course, this completely goes against the will of the people. How do you take a state question, that was voted on and passed, and suddenly change the meaning after the fact? How is that legal? Well, it’s probably not, actually, as evidenced by the warning against making the changes by the department’s legal counsel. A spokesman for Oklahomans for Health has already gone on record saying that there would be litigation over the deal, too. So, I guess we just have to wait and see what happens!