AG Advises Health Board To Amend Medical Marijuana Rules

Wednesday, July 18th 2018, 12:19 pm
By: News 9

The state attorney general has released a letter advising the state board of health to amend medical marijuana rules.

Attorney General Mike Hunter advised the board to convene for a special meeting to amend the rules passed to regulate medical marijuana.

“The current rules contain provisions that are inconsistent with the plain language of State Question 788 and the State Board of Health acted outside of its authority when it voted to implement them,” Hunter said. “Although I didn’t support State Question 788, the people of the state have spoken and I have a legal duty to honor the decision made by the electorate. My advice today is made pursuant to that responsibility as attorney general.

“Moving forward, I encourage all stakeholders to engage with the legislative working group looking at medical marijuana to ensure they have their concerns and recommendations heard and addressed by the legislature.”

In the letter, Hunter said the board's role in limiting forms of marijuana products is confined to food and safety standards  that are in line with food preparation guidelines, not prohibiting the sale of smokable, vapable, edible or other forms of marijuana. 

In the letter, Hunter also took issue with the board’s action to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist, writing, “the board has not been given any express or implied statutory authority to impose additional requirements on licensees. Thus, the board rules improperly require every licensed dispensary to have “a current licensed pharmacist” present “on-site at least 40 hours per week.” Nothing in the text of State Question 788 expressly or impliedly authorizes this rule.”  

Other concerns outlined in the letter included:

  • Restricting dispensaries to limited locations; 
  • Prohibiting dispensaries from co-locating with other businesses; 
  • Requiring medical marijuana be grown, processed and dispensed in enclosed structures; 
  • Requiring a surety bond for licensing; 
  • Setting hours of operation; 
  • Limiting the amount of THC in flower, leaf or concentrate for sale or distribution. 

Click here to view the full letter.

Despite Attorney General Mike Hunter siding with the people, a couple of lawsuits filed against the health department still stand.

Both groups said they have no intention of dropping the suits until the board reconvenes and gets the changes set in stone.

“We are fighting this battle until what the people voted on is done and implemented,” said Attorney Rachel Bussett.

Bussett is representing eight people in her suit. She says the attorney general’s recommendations only confirms what they've known all along.

“The department of health has overstepped throughout this process,” said Bussett.

And while Hunter did address many of their concerns to include the illegal sale of smokable marijuana, Bussett says SQ 788 is still in need of retooling.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with representative Eckles and his legislative committee, The Department of Health, the attorney general, and anyone else who would like a seat at the table such as other trade organizations to properly craft rules for medical marijuana in Oklahoma, so long as it is consistent with the will of the people,” said Bussett.

Bussett said while it seemed their cries were heard she hoped it would have a lasting impression.

“I hope they stop trying to over step and trying to do things they don't have the authority to do,” said Bussett.