Oklahoma House Democrats object to emergency medical cannabis rules


Oklahoma House Democrats have voiced strong opposition to the emergency medical marijuana rules adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Health Tuesday and approved by Governor Mary Fallin Wednesday.

FOX 25 caught up with a few State Representatives prior to the governor's announcement.

All said they hoped the governor would opt to veto the board's rules.

“The governor has the opportunity to stop this now and tell them to go back to the drawing board and find something that reflects what the voters asked for," said Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City.

"I think the first step; first sort of stopgap, is for the governor to realize that this is not what the voters intended and we need to respect their intentions, regardless of what her personal feelings may be," said Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman.

However, the governor decided otherwise, ultimately enacting the rules, which prohibit the sale of smokeable cannabis and require a pharmacist to be present when cannabis is dispensed.

Several organizations have threatened litigation, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

Virgin says if filed, a lawsuit could halt implementation.

"Unfortunately, with this action and with the pharmacist requirement it seems like it's going to make it pretty much impossible for anyone to access it. So, that will inevitably lead to a fight in court," she said.

The legislature has the power to overturn the rules in the next legislative session. Whether that happens during a special or regular session is still up in the air.

Regardless, these are emergency rules and they will expire in September 2019.

"These rules are not going to be permanent," said Bennett. "Permanent rules will have to be approved by the legislature. And the question there will be will legislators have the political will to uphold the will of the people."

"I know there are a handful of legislators, especially the democratic representatives in the house, who are concerned about effectuating the will of the people and getting back in and doing the right thing," said Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City.

Dollens says by approving the rules adopted by the board, Governor Fallin opted to side with five unelected doctors, opposed to the 500,000 voters in favor of State Question 788.

Members of the cannabis industry agree.

In a statement released by New Health Solutions Oklahoma, Political Director Jed Green said, "By refusing to show leadership and call a special session, the governor's office has handed over implementation of Oklahoma's medical cannabis program to a group of bureaucrats that are beholden to the special interest groups that fought State Question 788. The people making policy now are the same people who ran a million dollar smear campaign aimed at convincing Oklahomans that smoking medical cannabis would lead to the collapse of society.”

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