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ACLU of Oklahoma threatens lawsuit over newly-adopted marijuana rules

OKLAHOMA CITY - There was controversy Tuesday after the Oklahoma State Department of Health board adopted new rules governing the newly-passed state law allowing medical marijuana in our state.

Two restrictions were added which include no smokeable marijuana and a requirement a pharmacist be on staff at dispensaries.

“The health department shouldn’t pretend to be everyone’s doctor,” said Ryan Kiesel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

Kiesel said State Question 788, which overwhelmingly passed in our state, gives doctors the right to make recommendations to their patients and that should include smokeable marijuana.

“Smokeable marijuana or marijuana products derived from the smokeable parts of the plant are the best delivery systems for some patients. And, those need to be made on a case-by-case basis,” Kiesel said.

He said the health department eliminating that option goes against the spirit of 788 and the will of the voters.

“This arbitrary limit created such a severe restriction on that doctor-patient relationship and went so far outside of the scope of what State Question 788 allowed that I think a challenge became inevitable at that point,” Kiesel said.

And, that’s exactly what they’re looking at now, talking with partners about the possibility of a lawsuit.

“I think that what the health department did today is potentially so far outside of what they’re allowed to do under State Question 788 that it could be overturned by a court,” Kiesel said.

“I would expect some type of litigation to be filed about these rules, regardless,” said Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates.

Bates said they are expecting a lawsuit, whether that comes from the ACLU or another group.

“If and when that occurs, we will defend the rules that the board has passed and just take it from there,” he said.

“I think that the people of Oklahoma spoke that they wanted a medical cannabis system,” Kiesel said.

Kiesel said, if that isn’t implemented fairly, a lawsuit is one option.

The legislature going into special session is another.

However, Fallin’s Communications Director tells News 4 the governor has not changed her mind and still does not plan to call for a special session.

Kiesel said it could also give a boost to State Question 797, which would allow recreational marijuana in our state.

Supporters are currently working on getting enough signatures to get that to a vote of the people in November.