Oklahoma citizens voted to legalize medical cannabis recently on June 26, but state lawmakers are trying to impose as many last-minute restrictions as possible before dispensaries open. On July 7, the Oklahoma State Department of Health voted to approve emergency rules to remove smokable cannabis from the approved delivery methods.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority falls underneath the Department of Health and will oversee license applications which will begin to be processes on Aug. 25. It also means that the Department of Health has some say-so over the details of the medical cannabis program.
Obviously, when voters approved State Question 788 to legalize medical cannabis, it was generally assumed that it would include smokable forms of cannabis as seen in most other states that have enacted a comprehensive medical cannabis program. SQ788 becomes effective on July 26.
The emergency rules were imposed after receiving similar recommendations from the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy. The Department of Health will regulate medical cannabis because Gov. Mary Fallin declined to hold a special legislative session to develop regulations.
The rules go far beyond the restrictions that are seen in most other states with medical cannabis, with a few exceptions. Per the emergency rules, dispensaries shall not carry smokable cannabis, processed products may not contain more than 12 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and mature plants shall not contain more than 20 percent THC. Dispensaries must hire a pharmacist or healthcare professional (as seen in Minnesota and Connecticut). One of the more bizarre rules includes that any woman of “childbearing age” must first undergo a pregnancy test to prove they are not pregnant, according to Tulsa World, however some exemptions will apply. Many more limitations are included.
The director of ACLU of Oklahoma was not pleased with the announcement of last-minute changes.
In banning all smokeable forms of medical cannabis in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Health Department just guaranteed litigation. This is completely inconsistent with #SQ788 & a responsible medical cannabis program.
— Ryan Kiesel (@capitolkiesel) July 10, 2018
Rep. Jason Lowe also slammed the emergency rules, saying that it “undermines one of the most participated in elections in state history.” Gov. Fallin has 45 days to sign or table the emergency rules.