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Bill filed to allow medical marijuana use in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A state lawmaker wants Oklahoma to join 18 other states and allow certain medical patients to use marijuana.

"Medical marijuana has been shown to ease pain, to lighten symptoms," Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Dist. 48) said Wednesday afternoon.

She has filed Senate Bill 902 to establish a medical marijuana program.

With a doctor's approval, patients with debilitating medical conditions could use marijuana without fear of criminal prosecution.

She has also filed Senate Bill 914, which changes the maximum penalty for possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana.

Currently, the maximum penalty is a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The new maximum penalty would be 10 days in jail and a $200 fine.

Johnson said, "Why are we allowing something as non-addictive as marijuana to be a reason to lock people up?"

Windsor Hills Baptist Church Pastor Tom Vineyard opposes the bills, saying marijuana is a gateway drug.

He said over 99 percent of cocaine users admitted they started with a drug like marijuana.

"At some point the marijuana will stop working and they'll have to move on to something else," he said.

Vineyard, who's been a drug counselor, believes modern science is the answer for pain management.

He said reducing a sentence to 10 days will only encourage more drug use.

"Then we'll see more people involved in accidents with it," Vineyard said.  "More people injured. More people killed in automobile accidents and so forth."

"Once they use (marijuana), they probably get sleepy, go somewhere and eat and sit down and they are non-violent offenders," Johnson said.  "No one has ever died or had an overdose using marijuana."

At least 10 more states are expected to consider similar legislation this year.