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Medical marijuana authors release proposed regulations days before working group meets

OKLAHOMA CITY - As lawmakers selected for a working group on medical marijuana prepare for their first meeting, groups behind the legalization of medical cannabis have drafted a proposed statute for consideration.

New Health Solutions Oklahoma, which funded the Yes On 788 campaign, has released a roughly 270-page proposal which they have described as a working draft of legislation to implement State Question 788.

"As the industry experts here, we are not just saying, hey there’s a problem...we expect you to fix it. What we are saying is, here’s a problem. Let’s all work together and find that solution," said NSHO political director Jed Green.

According to Green, the proposal includes practices modeled from other states' programs on medical marijuana with regulations such as patient protections.

"We’re talking about things like laboratories, for example. This is a medical product that has to be tested," he said. "What we want to do is make sure that things like labeling, that indicate for child safety, child resisting containers for edibles, things like that."

The proposal comes days before lawmakers selected to serve on a working group are scheduled to hold their first meeting on Wednesday, July 25. Lawmakers have been tasked with creating recommendations for a permanent framework on medical marijuana.

The senators serving on the working group are:

  • Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, co-chair
  • Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle
  • Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher
  • Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville
  • Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City

The representatives working on the group are:

  • Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, co-chair
  • Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant
  • Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee
  • Rep. Josh West, R-Grove
  • Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa
  • Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs
  • Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami
  • Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman

According to a press secretary for House Speaker Charles McCall, the House members were selected by the Speaker himself.

"Those members expressed beforehand a desire to serve. All session committees and special working groups are structured based upon the ratio of Republicans and Democrats in the House," News 4 was told Friday.

House co-chair Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said the plan moving forward is to meet every week. The meetings will be open to the public.

"We’ve had some problems, let’s be blunt because there’s a lot of distrust going on right now with what’s happened in the health department," Rep. Echols said. "The legislature has to both come up with a good product that everyone has signed off on and have an open and transparent process. I hear that over and over again. It’s not going to be a top down process. It’s the legislature working with the drafters behind 788."

While Governor Mary Fallin has indicated she will not call a special session, Rep. Echols said the idea is not completely off the table.

"This committee is going to come up with recommendations. They’re going to be bipartisan recommendations and if those recommendations can be implemented by the department of health then the department of health can implement them," he said. "If they require a special session, that’s when we will require a special session."

Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, took to Twitter on Thursday saying, "Although I still believe our state is best served by a special session to decide on regulations, I’m happy to be named to the medical marijuana work group."

Earlier this week, the Senate Democratic caucus released a statement following a recommendation from Attorney General Mike Hunter regarding the emergency rules approved by the state Board of Health:

“The Senate Democratic Caucus urges Governor Fallin to call the legislature into special session to address issues related to medical marijuana. Today’s letter from Attorney General Mike Hunter to Health Department Interim Director Tom Bates clearly concludes that the Board of Health approved medical marijuana rules that exceed its statutory authority.

The leadership of the Oklahoma Legislature will soon be convening a bipartisan working group to make recommendations regarding medical marijuana regulations. The legislature should convene in special session without delay to consider the working group’s recommendations. As elected legislators, it is our constitutional duty to carry out the will of the people.”

Echols said while they have not determined a time or room, the meeting on Wednesday will be at the Capitol.