Pat Beggan

Oklahoma MMJ Program Forges Ahead; Health Officials Tack On New Restrictions

Since Oklahoma voters decided to legalize medical cannabis last month, state officials have fast-tracked the creation of regulatory guidelines for the new industry which, under the voter-approved law, are required within 60 days of the election. Pushback from concerned health officials, however, now threatens to stunt the program’s effectiveness from the outset, the Associated Press reports.

Specifically, the state Board of Health voted this week to prohibit the sale of smokeable cannabis products and to establish a rule requiring dispensaries to have a pharmacist on staff. The restrictions were added despite warnings from the board’s own attorney that it could lead to legal issues.

Advocates have already accused the board of defying the will of voters.

“The people were clear. They wanted to be able to smoke medical marijuana. This flies in the face of what the people10 wanted.” — Former state Sen. Connie Johnson, a longtime cannabis advocate, in the report

Oklahoma‘s voter-approved medical cannabis initiative is one of the most progressive successful pieces of cannabis legislation. The program allows doctors to recommend cannabis for any condition they see fit — this is very different from most other states, where regulators establish lists of medical conditions that qualify patients to access the program.

Chip Paul, who helped author the initiative to legalize medical cannabis, said the last-minute changes were unfortunate but not a deal breaker.

“Even with a pharmacist on site, even with no smokable marijuana, we now have a program where patients who are suffering can at least get some relief, and that’s a giant, huge deal.” — Chip Paul, via the Associated Press

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