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Emergency rules for medical marijuana ban sale of smokeable forms, add provisions on edibles

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state's Board of Health has approved emergency rules on medical marijuana, with some two specific exceptions.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Board of Health approved emergency rules drafted by the Oklahoma State Department of Health two weeks after Oklahomans voted to approve State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana.

Under the new emergency rules, smokeable forms of medical marijuana would be banned from sale in dispensaries. According to Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates, licensed medical marijuana users would still be allowed to use it if it was grown themselves.

"To allow smokeable forms would be a step back as protectors of public health in Oklahoma and certainly reasonable people can differ on that," Commissioner Bates said.

The board also approved an amendment which would require pharmacists to be on site at dispensaries.

Bud Scott, executive director of New Health Solutions Oklahoma, told News 4 he believes the rules approved Tuesday had good and bad impacts. On one hand, Scott said the rules were proof that the OSDH was fully capable of implementing the medical marijuana.

However, Scott said the amendments would "hamper" patient access.

"No smokeable product, which basically eliminates flowering bud," he said. "That’s a major, major problem because often times different delivery systems, the way you ingest medical cannabis, has a different impact for your specific medical condition."

Under the new rules, adults who wish to be licensed must be recommended by one board certified physician. Minors would need recommendations from two board certified physicians.

Commercial licenses for growers and processors would be $2,500. The applicant cannot have a felony within the past five years, OSDH general counsel Julie Ezell said. The board also approved certain provisions on edibles.

"Gummy bears or candies that look like dogs or anything that might attract your child’s attention, we prohibit those because we obviously don’t want those to fall into the hands of a child," explained Ezell.

The emergency rules also state "a single serving of a medical marijuana product processed or dispensed shall not exceed ten (10) milligrams active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Medical marijuana products and Medical Marijuana Concentrate processed or dispensed shall have a THC content of not more than twelve percent (12%). Mature marijuana plants shall have a THC content of not more than twenty percent (20%)."

Scott said he believes there was an overreach by the Board in regards to THC levels.

"They’ll try to justify it as protecting the public health authority, however, we’ll definitely say it was not based in sound science and it’s definitely not an industry standard," he said.

Speaking with members of the press after Tuesday's meeting, Bates acknowledged there had been robust comments and debate amid discussion on THC levels. He said the recommendations were based on feedback they received from the medical community and the practice of other states.

"We didn’t chisel anything today in granite, and we will begin making a permanent rule making process in which we will revisit some of the rules at some point again," he said. "I would expect some type of litigation to be filed about these rules, regardless even if they had passed the rules as submitted. If and when that occurs, we will defend the rules that the board has passed and take it from there."

For a full copy of the rules, click here.