OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority executive director said she is not anti-marijuana Friday after an opinion piece she wrote against the passing of SQ 788 resurfaced.
Adria Berry is the fourth executive director in three years. In the past, she wrote an opinion piece while working for the State Chamber that was published in the Tulsa World. The only problem is, the State Chamber was adamantly against the passing of SQ 788, as was Berry’s opinion piece. However, she told KFOR in an interview Friday night that her position is not anti-marijuana and never has been. However, she is against the language that was written in the state question.
“I know it’s perceived that I’m anti-marijuana and I hope to prove people wrong because that has never been my intent,” Berry said.
The new executive director worked to clear the air on that topic just days after her appointment. The new role for her raised eyebrows after the Tulsa World published her opinion piece titled: “SQ 788 means more risks, fewer rights for employers.”
“It’s never been anti-medical marijuana,” Berry said. “Ever.”
In the article, Berry called the state question “problematic.” She discussed several issues she claimed were at the forefront of the state question, like employers’ rights, drug testing and issues that would limit drug free workplaces.
“The state question was really broad,” Berry said. “I mean objectively broad.”
“Oklahoma is the national champion of medical programs,” said Jed Green, the director of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action and director of the vote yes on SQ 788 campaign.
He also called Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program wonderful and strong. Almost 10 percent of Oklahoma’s population, around 375,000 people, has a medical marijuana card. However, he also pointed to some problems.
“Ultimately, the biggest problems that our program has is not the pot, it’s the politics,” he said. “We are basically saddled with a little bit too much bureaucracy in the way that decisions get made.”
Green knows Berry and calls her a professional, while saying his organization welcomes her. He also claims that although this is the fourth executive director in three years, the issues go beyond that.
“The evidence of the record is that the director only has so much power and is not the one calling the shots at OMMA,” Green said.
With over 8,500 growers and 2,300 dispensaries in the state, both Green and Berry point to structural deficiencies in regulation of the industry.
“It was a state question that didn’t really take into consideration a lot of the regulatory framework that was needed in our state to get this program off the ground,” Berry said.
“There are structural deficiencies in our regulatory system that we do not believe that the leadership in the state is going to be able to muster the political will power in order to be able to fix,” Green said.
Berry said she hasn’t had the time to take a deep dive into the details of everything or develop a full plan yet, as she is only just starting. However, she has outlined her top priority as executive director. She said that is to ensure inspections of facilities and make sure they are operating within the law.