UPDATE: State Pharmacy board terminates executive director amid controversy

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UPDATE: 7/25/18: The Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to terminate the employment of Executive Director Chelsea Church.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy has scheduled a special meeting this week to take up the issue of the board director’s employment, as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether the director offered a bribe to impact the state’s medical marijuana rules.

According to an agenda posted Monday to the board’s website, it will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the board offices to discuss executive director Chelsea Church’s employment and the possible appointment of an interim director.

Church, who has served as the board’s executive director since August 2017, has not returned calls for comment.

Last week, independent journalism website NonDoc published text messages between Church and the now-former Oklahoma State Department of Health general counsel Julia Ezell in which Church appears to offer Ezell a job and pay raise in exchange for requiring pharmacists in medical marijuana dispensaries.

The rules Ezell presented to the health board earlier this month didn’t include the requirement and one of two controversial amendments Ezell advised the board against, but the board added it anyway.

Since NonDoc’s report, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has asked the OSBI to look into the messages sent between Church and Ezell, as it appeared there was an attempt to influence and possibly bribe Ezell. He’s also tasked state investigators to figure out if there were attempts to threaten, influence or bribe anyone related to the state board of health.

Ezell resigned from her post as general counsel in the days after the emergency rules were approved by the board and signed by Gov. Fallin. She was charged last week with criminal felony charges for allegedly emailing fake threats to herself in the days surrounding the presentation and voting on the emergency rules she helped draft.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said last Wednesday the health board overstepped its authority and called for it to hold a special meeting. A health department spokesman told News 4 Monday a date and time have not yet been set.

The Board of Pharmacy meeting is scheduled for the same time as the first meeting of a bipartisan medical marijuana working group at the state capitol with legislators.

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