Candidates For Governor Weigh In On Marijuana
OKLAHOMA CITY - State Question 788 allows the use of medical cannabis in Oklahoma, but the legislature is still working on rules for distribution.
News 9 sat down with the three gubernatorial candidates to get their take.
Republican Candidate Kevin Stitt said he supports both medical marijuana and the will of the people.
New statistics released by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority appear to reinforce just how strong that support is in the Sooner State.
Monday, October 1, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority confirmed 5,111 patient, 36 caregiver, 469 dispensaries, 719 growers and 197 processors have been approved for licenses.
Stitt said he supports medical marijuana, but recreational marijuana has no place in Oklahoma because he said it brings unintended consequences like employment issues, conflicts with the banking system, and it could put local businesses at a disadvantage.
Stitt points out, the federal government still doesn’t recognize medical marijuana as legal.
Stitt said there are examples of some of these consequences just to the northwest.
“Insurance costs have gone up in Colorado, homelessness. It's not right for Oklahoma, and I will be the first one out there telling people that,” said Stitt.
However, if recreational marijuana ended up on the ballot as a state question, like 788, Stitt said he would again respect the will of the people and whatever they decide.
“As governor, of course! I will be out there representing what all 4 Million Oklahoman's and representing their will,” he said.
Democratic Candidate Drew Edmondson says he's taking a wait and see approach right now with both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Edmondson says he’s watching legislative hearings closely to see what changes lawmakers propose.
"Both the Board of Health and the legislature needs to follow the will of the people. Consistent with that they have some work to do and the measure when it passed had a very short fuse, so I think people are working in good faith to comply,” said Edmondson.
Edmondson says he would not stand in the way of recreational marijuana but would prefer holding off until we get a better idea of how other states implement it.
"I wouldn't oppose it if the people passed it or if the legislature passed it. I would see that it's implemented. But what I would caution right now is more study and lets just hold off for a while and profit from the experience of others,” said Edmondson.
Libertarian Candidate Chris Powell is also keeping a close eye on restrictions the legislature might impose on medical marijuana.
“One of the things that business owners need is certainty, so they don't need massive changes in the permanent rules that are going to be passed in the spring,” said Powell.
He would like to see rules set up so large companies can't force mom and pop dispensaries out of business.
As for recreational marijuana?
"I think that we have to completely decriminalize cannabis. It's a plant. People have used it for thousands of years,” said Powell.
Powell says his plan will help reduce the prison population.