Preparing for a fight: Medical marijuana battles occurring across the country

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

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."

If the rules end up going before a judge, the case may be tied up in the court system for some time like other states' battles over whether smokable marijuana should be allowed.

In 2016, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the use of medical marijuana by patients. One year later, the legislature included a provision that banned it from being smoked.

In May, a Florida judge ruled that the provision was unconstitutional.

The state appealed the decision, and a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal determined the case will continue to have to play out before patients can smoke marijuana.

Supporters are urging the state's Supreme Court to issue a ruling in the case.

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