Two Oklahoma groups file lawsuits against state agency over medical marijuana rules

OKLAHOMA CITY – After a controversial decision by the state’s Board of Health, medical marijuana supporters say they are gearing up for a fight in court.

On Tuesday, the Board of Health approved emergency rules on medical marijuana, with two specific exceptions.

Under the new emergency rules, smokable 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 smokable forms would be a step back as protectors of public health in Oklahoma and certainly reasonable people can differ on that," Commissioner Bates said.

However, medical marijuana advocates say they are gearing up for a fight.

"We will absolutely throw the book at them with class-action lawsuits on behalf of patients. We won't be railroaded," Chip Paul, with Oklahomans for Health, said on Wednesday. "We simply want our state question implemented and properly regulated."

Other members argue that the board took policies created by a group who was against the state question rather than paying attention to the 507,000 voters who voted in favor of State Question 788.

"They knew what they were voting for. No disrespect to anybody that claims they didn't, but that's not the case. You do not outweigh the will of the people," said Chance Gilbert, with the Oklahoma Cannabis Trade Association. "The rule of law in our nation is democracy. And the democracy is not being upheld right now."

On Friday, the group 'Green the Vote' and Kenny Wogoman announced that a lawsuit has been filed regarding the new rules.

According to a news release, the lawsuit is against the State of Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Department of Health and five members of the Oklahoma Department of Health.

"The lawsuit filed today is our endeavor to undo the wrongful acts of the Oklahoma Department of Health in adopting amendments to the regulations implementing State Initiative 788. It is our hope that this lawsuit will quickly resolve the improper regulations and allow Oklahoma citizens to exercise their rights to manage their own health care," the release states.

Organizers say they do not want to slow down the implementation of the current regulation, but rather hope to rectify some of the exemptions listed.

A second lawsuit has also been filed.

The lawsuit against the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has been filed in Cleveland County District on behalf of eight people represented by the Bussett Legal Group in Oklahoma City.

"Plaintiffs contend that the rules interfere with or impairs, or threatens to interfere with or impair, the legal rights or privileges of the Plaintiffs. Defendant Oklahoma Board of Health lacks the authority to promulgate the rules, as the rules are outside of the scope of the enabling statute and the Board of Health failed to follow the procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act for promulgating emergency rules," the lawsuit states.