'Unity Bill' Regulating Medical Marijuana Passes In State House Of Representatives

Thursday, February 28th 2019, 7:22 pm

A bill regulating medical marijuana passes in the State House of Representatives. 

After State Question 788 passed last year legalizing the use of medical marijuana, the State Department of Health came under fire for usurping the will of the people with harsh rules that included banning all smokable marijuana and requiring a pharmacist to be present at dispensaries. Those rules were scrapped, and it was back to the drawing board.

“We heard from many people who were involved with the passage of 788, the campaign as well as the Department of Health and different groups,” said Representative Scott Fetgatter (R) Muskogee.

And with that input, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came up with a set of rules they believe does not undermine the will of the people. Rules like testing requirements to make sure marijuana has the right potency and is free from dangerous chemicals.

“I don’t remember on that ballot question seeing a part where voters were asking for 77-pages of additional regulation,” said Representative Shane Stone (D) Oklahoma City.

Lawmakers had concerns about taxing the product. Dispensaries can’t use banks because the federal government doesn’t recognize marijuana as having medical benefits.

Lawmakers are also concerned about patients and guns. The federal government says it’s a crime to use an illegal drug, like marijuana, and have a firearm.

“I have a letter here from the ATF from the director specifically prohibiting the sellers of firearms to disregard this statute,” said Representative Chelsey Branham (D) Edmond.

Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader replied, “Confiscations have not happened in recreational states. It’s unlikely the first gun confiscation will occur in the state of Oklahoma.”

Finally, some lawmakers had concerns about the amount of marijuana a patient is allowed to have. Under 788, a person can have six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings; plus 72-ounces of edible marijuana and 8-ounces of marijuana at their residence. This bill doesn’t change that.

“Snoop Dogg can’t smoke or eat or take that much marijuana in a 30-day supply,” said Fetgatter.

The bill now goes to the state Senate. 

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