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Oklahoma AG: Board of Health does not have authority to ban smokable marijuana

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. (KOKH)
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. (KOKH)
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KTUL) -Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has instructed the State Board of Health to amend the rules it recently implemented concerning medical marijuana.

Last week, the State Board of Health voted to implement rules banning the sale of smokable marijuana, despite outcry from proponents of State Question 788. Hunter wrote in a letter to the board that the Health Department cannot prohibit the sale of certain types of marijuana, based on the wording of the law.

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“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 in a press release. “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."

Hunter called for the Board of Health to convene a special meeting to amend the rules.

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The Board of Health's role in limiting the availability of marijuana products is confined to "food and safety standards that are in line with food preparation guidelines," Hunter said in a press release. Hunter said the board does not have the authority to require dispensaries to have pharmacists present on-site for at least 40 hours a week, which was one of the rules approved by the board.

“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," Hunter said in the release.

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The Board of Health is facing multiple lawsuits over the emergency medical marijuana rules.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the other concerns outlined in Hunter's letter to the Health Department include:

  • 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.

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