OKLAHOMA CITY – A new legal battle over medical marijuana laws could be brewing as some advocates said it could be an invasion of privacy.
Senate Bill 1030 was signed into law in May.
Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle was one of the bill authors and told News 4 that it was requested by the Oklahoma Municipal League. It primarily focuses on zoning rules, however there is a provision over traffic stops and what happens if a medical marijuana patient does not have their card on them.
“Before Senate Bill 1030, they could either get fined or actually be arrested and put in jail for the weekend,” Paxton said. “So, what Senate Bill 1030 does is it clears all that up and says that, if it’s an ounce and a half of marijuana or less and they don’t have their card with them, they cannot be arrested but they can still be fined.”
To verify someone does legally possess a card, information from it would be available to police through the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.
“The State Department of Health shall assist any law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties upon such law enforcement officer’s request or the request of other local officials having jurisdiction. The department shall share information with law enforcement agencies upon request without a subpoena or search warrant,” the bill states. “The State Department of Health shall make available all information displayed on medical marijuana licenses, as well as whether or not the license is valid, to law enforcement electronically through the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.”
“Patient protection provision in this bill, because now the officer can actually see if that license is valid. To see if they have a license, because if they do — they send them on their way without even a $400 ticket,” Paxton said. “They treat that the same they would a drivers license. If you’re on the road and don’t have your drivers license… officer’s discretion is they can check and see if you actually have a license and he’ll write you a warning but maybe not write you a ticket.”
However, not everyone sees it that way.
The Durbin Law Firm took to Facebook on Thursday stating they were looking for patients to challenge the law, saying in part “If you are a medical marijuana patient that believes law enforcement shouldn’t have automatic access to learn you are a marijuana patient when they initiate a traffic stop, or any other kind of stop, and want to fight back, let us know. Under SB 1030, the Oklahoma legislature invaded the privacy of every medical marijuana patient by making this information available to law enforcement. This can not stand!!!”
Patients like John Frasure told us he fears it could cause unfair treatment from law enforcement.
“They know I’m a marijuana user, and they’re going to start looking for roaches or roach clips just anything else that they can find in my car,” Frasure said. “It comes back to reefer madness. They want to identify the marijuana users and categorize us as all being bad.”
Paxton said that’s not the intention.
“That paragraph in the legislation was put there not as a means for law enforcement to dig deeper into your personal information. It was put there for them to avoid giving you a ticket just because you forget your card,” he said.
The law goes into effect on August 29 with other medical marijuana bills signed into law, including the Unity Bill.