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Pro-cannabis advocates rally at Oklahoma State Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY - Pro-cannabis advocates rallied Sunday at the Oklahoma State Capitol over medical marijuana emergency rules.

John Frasure, a volunteer coordinator with the grass-roots group Green the Vote, said he and others began planning the rally on Tuesday.

"We’re tired of all of the legislation that’s coming out, all of the back door meetings and everything," Frasure told News 4. "The health department does need to know they need to straighten us out."

The rally comes amid frustration over emergency rules on medical marijuana approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Health, Frasure said. On July 10, board members approved the rules with amendments which included banning the sale of smokeable marijuana products and certain edibles and requiring pharmacists to be on site of dispensaries.

About 100 people showed up on Sunday, including Suzanne Smith.

"Cannabis saved my life with PTSD. I cannot smoke it here. I am a patient. I am not criminal but in Oklahoma, it’s been criminalized so I can’t smoke it for fear that I will lose my children and go to jail over the medicine that helps me stay healthy," Smith said. "Cannabis is a miracle drug. It’s not to be criminalized."

The Oklahoma State Department of Health did not comment on Sunday's planned rally, but a spokesperson said the agency is tasked with setting up the framework for a medical marijuana program as specified in State Question 788.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the board acted outside of its authority when it approved the rules. Tim Starkey, president of the board of health, has since announced they will announce a special meeting over the changes as soon as possible.

Frasure said he was happy with Sunday's turnout, considering the organizers began planning the rally on Tuesday.

"That shows you exactly how mad people are," he said. "People are doing this in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Bethany, Warr Acres, Chickasha, Sapulpa, all over the state."

A spokesperson for Governor Mary Fallin told News 4 on Sunday over the phone that the Governor has heard the people. Earlier this week, Governor Fallin released this statement amid Attorney General Hunter's announcement:

"Because the public didn't have ample time to weigh in with their concerns on the two last-minute amendment, the Board of Health should rescind the. My office has received calls and emails since last week's board action, with most addressing those two amendments. My legal staff and I are analyzing other points made in the attorney general's legal letter to see what other other action might be necessary.

I want Oklahomans to know that dedicated state employees are working hard to put a process in place that will provide a medical framework with public health and safety as a main priority. State Question 788 was written with a 30-day implementation deadline. It is unfortunate that there was not more consideration given by the proponents of SQ788 as to how it is to place such a quick turnaround on a very complicated subjected. However, the state will carry out the responsibility of administering this law."