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Medical marijuana state question approved by Oklahoma voters

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After thousands of Oklahomans went to the polls, the Associated Press announced that State Question 788 was approved by Oklahoma voters.

State Question 788  was written to "legalize the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes."

A license, which must be approved by an Oklahoma board-certified physician, would be required for the use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The license would be issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health if the applicant is 18-years-old and an Oklahoma resident.

The state question means a person with a state issued medical marijuana license could:

1) Consume marijuana legally

2) Legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person

3) Legally possess six mature marijuana plants

4) Legally possess six seedling plants

5) Legally possess one ounce of concentrated marijuana

6) Legally possess 72 ounces of edible marijuana

7) Legally possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their residence.

Jed Green, state director for the group "Yes On 788," has told News 4 in a past interview that passing State Question 788 would be a "win-win" for Oklahoma. According to Green, it would be a billion dollar industry with a potential to create jobs along with health benefits.

“I know there are what we call medical refugees, folks that have had to actually move out of state, and I believe that Oklahoma would be a better place if folks were able to access the medicines that help them,” Green said. “What we want to do is we want the public to be aware that from cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, epilepsy; that there are a host of illnesses that medical marijuana has been very effective in treating."

Opponents, including the Oklahoma City Chamber Commerce, have told us they are not against medical marijuana as a whole but the way the question is written could be problematic.

“If you’re an employer and you have truck drivers, do you want that truck driver to be smoking marijuana at work because they have a medical prescription? If you’re a manufacturer, do you want them handling dangerous equipment with that?” Roy Williams, chamber CEO, asked. “The concern here is that it’s wide open, that there’s really no restrictions on who gets it.”

On Tuesday night, the Associated Press announced that voters approved to pass the measure.

Gov. Mary Fallin has already said that if the measure passes, a special session will be called to give lawmakers the chance to regulate the measure.

She released a statement Tuesday night saying:

“I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state. It is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens. As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”

Kevin Taubman, M.D., F.A.C.S., co-chair of SQ 788 is Not Medical Coalition also spoke out after the result Tuesday night saying, "We are obviously disappointed by the outcome, as we believe 788 is simply too broadly written to be considered a legitimate medical marijuana program. However, we respect the will of the voters and our member groups look forward to working with the Legislature and the Health Department to advance common-sense regulations that benefit patients while protecting businesses and communities.” 

And, the Marijuana Policy Project released a statement:

“The passage of State Question 788 highlights the strength and diversity of public support for laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. Most Oklahomans agree that patients should be able to access medical marijuana safely and legally if their doctors recommend it. It is noteworthy that this measure passed in such a red state during a primary election, when voter turnout tends to be older and more conservative than during a general election. Support for medical marijuana is overwhelming, and it spans the political and demographic spectrums. 
"We are pleased to see state officials are already working on developing a regulatory framework for medical marijuana, and we hope they will include patients, advocates, and other stakeholders in the process. It is important that patients have reliable access to the products that work best for their conditions. Oklahoma officials can learn a lot from the successes and shortcomings of other states’ programs, and hopefully they will create a system that will serve as an example for other states in the region.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is advising Oklahomans to not visit state or county health departments with questions relating to medical marijuana.

“Please do not visit the state or county health department offices with questions relating to medical marijuana. We are still working with limited staff who deliver clinical and other services across the state,” said OSDH Interim Commissioner Tom Bates. “All relevant information and instructions will be provided online.”

Health officials say the application process will "be available at the required time and will be enhanced in the coming months to make it more efficient for all interested parties. It may take some time to fully implement all of the steps recommended in preparation for this new program, but we will continue to work to meet the letter of the law and to protect the health and safety of all Oklahomans."