On Tuesday evening, Oklahoma voters defied all odds and approved State Question 788, one of the United States’ most lenient medical cannabis programs. Oklahomans voted 56 percent to 43 percent in favor of the ballot initiative.
Up to a million dollars was spent in vain to defeat the bill, with $815,000 coming from the group “SQ 788 is Not Medical” and $95,000 coming from the Oklahoma State Medical Association according to state filings provided by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Tulsa World reports that $453,000 was spent on a last minute media blitz. “Oklahoma would have the most liberal ‘medical’ marijuana law in the nation,” SQ 788 is Not Medical stated.
The approval means that Oklahomans ages 18 and over can get a doctor’s recommendation to treat their illnesses with medical cannabis. State Question 788 is lenient—for instance, it doesn’t even define a set list of qualifying conditions. It’s a huge step forward, given that Oklahoma City was named the capital of the “Bible Belt” decades ago by The Saturday Evening Post. But now, even Oklahoma’s evangelical Christians now support medical cannabis.
Oklahoma’s governor reluctantly accepted the results, but described the bill as a slippery slope towards full legalization. “I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement. “It is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens. As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”
A similar situation is occurring in Utah. While Utah’s governor doesn’t approve of medical cannabis, as claims that it’s the same as recreational cannabis, polls indicate that the state could easily approve medical cannabis.