As election day approaches, support for SQ 788 may be narrowing (Capitol Update)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

The June 26 primary elections are coming on quickly now. A lot of candidates, both new political entries and incumbents are starting to feel the pressure. In most campaigns the early months are consumed by planning, making contacts with potential supporters and the all-important fundraising. This is especially true for non-incumbents. They are generally not public figures yet and don’t have as much access to campaign funds as those already in office.

Early on there’s not much time to think about whether you’ll win or lose. You just keep your head down and plow ahead. But now, with only a few days left it begins to sink in that this will soon be over. There is an unavoidable answer coming on a day certain, June 26th. Either the candidate will fulfill his dream of serving in public office or he’ll return to whatever he was doing before — or perhaps begin to find a different dream. For incumbents, it’s a day of reckoning. Most did in office what they thought was right and what they thought their constituents wanted them to do. They’ll find out suddenly and publicly if voters approve. Elections can be cruel. The best people don’t always win, and sometimes good people get turned out. It’s why most people would never consider putting their name on a ballot.

Beyond the individual candidate races this primary election has a fascinating – and some would say important – ballot question, SQ 788. It’s the initiative petition that would legalize medical marijuana. Opponents say it’s written too broadly and would permit recreational use of marijuana because it doesn’t limit use to specified illnesses or conditions. Proponents say that’s unnecessary and medically unwise because the proposal requires getting permission for medical use from a qualified physician. They say the doctor’s professional judgment should be limited by medical knowledge, not legislation.

I think SQ 788 results will be a close. Earlier polling showed strong support, but Chamber and business groups have raised $453,000 to spend on a final push to defeat the proposal. Those types of campaigns often work, and opponents say the “no” campaign has already had its effect on polling. It’s dangerous to predict elections, but I’d guess the measure will squeak by. People paint with a broad brush in these types of elections. Beyond helping people with medical issues, the thing folks do know — and what I think is motivating much of the “yes” vote — is that they are tired of seeing young people being arrested and jailed for possession of marijuana. The “drug war” has produced mass incarceration while at the same time leaving people who become addicted with inadequate or no treatment. I’d bet at least a slight majority want to try something different, and they’re not too worried whether it’s worded exactly right. If I’m wrong, it will be a slight majority the other direction.

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Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

21 thoughts on “As election day approaches, support for SQ 788 may be narrowing (Capitol Update)

  1. we just want it legal , and your right about the laws pertaining to this , a system just like everything else, in this state, that needs over hauling . the only thing I’m against, the is greed when it come to giving back to the people . instead more $ pushed towards a system that is nothing more then obsessive pocket fillers. and expansion of a already dysfunctional system . and I have asked many times, who’s fronting the money? and where will product come from ? since we already know that CBD is already legal . what funding will be used for this ? and is it legal ?

  2. The data for the efficacy of medical cannabis is solid. I have seen patients use cannabis or CBD on their own volition as a crutch to get off of harder and potentially lethal substances (which by DEA statistics there has never been a documented lethal cannabis overdose). Seizure patients have within their grasp a richer and more fulfilling life with fewer or no more seizures. The list is exhaustive on the benefits and the arguements I’ve seen against medical cannabis have either been founded in fear more than fact, or just outright false. It will be quite disappointing if this item does not pass, as so many will suffer as a result.

  3. I think this state is unbelievable!! The commercial advertising is ridiculous!! Please pass this initiative!! Marijuana is so helpful to many,including me who has bad back problems, have had 2 surgeries and now have bone spurs in my neck!! It is way better than alcohol!!!!!

  4. SQ 788 will be up for a vote on 06/26. I strongly encourage everyone to get the facts from both sides of this bill. Get informed and know exactly what you are voting for. I have spoken to several Legislators and the State Health Department and as a mother and employer I’m concerned about how it is written and I will NOT be voting for this bill. I believe in medical marijuana-YES! Do I care if marijuana is recreational- NO! I do believe this bill needs to be taken back to the drawing boards for some revisions. Employers will not be protected if an employee watching my child is under the influence at say the local pool the way it’s currently written. Will there be a surplus to fund education if people are growing it at home? Does it even make sense to tax a Cancer patient for an RX script? Would it make more sense to pass it as recreational like alcohol? Will law enforcement be able to test for DUI’s? Review the 29 states that have passed and you will see the difference. So many questions so I hope that you will review both sides before you vote.

  5. To Shanna F.

    I understand your thoughts on the way it’s worded. There’s actually nothing wrong with recreational anyway, it’s a miracle that it’s even on the ballot. Us being in the bible belt, some churches are against cannabis, do they preach that it’s talked about in the bible? No. Look in Genesis. Do they realize that it was part of an ingredient in the holy anointing oil? Nope. I never thought in years Oklahoma would come this far. There’s too much opposition because it protects their backwards way of life. If it passes, I’m sure they will regulate the heck out of it, we just need to have it pass that way people can get safe and easy access to better medicine. If you vote it down you are only giving more strength to big pharma who only want to push more awful pills down our throats, you are also keeping the cartels going. Cannabis is 60-80% of their money, we legalize marijuana, it’ll stop them. I’m tired of people being addicted and dying from opiates. Cannabis is a much safer and better alternative to pain meds. We will get to have more jobs and more revenue for the state and our kids will inherit a better place. I’ve seen Colorado. It’s beautiful. Their roads are smooth, ours are full of pot holes. I think if some kind of change towards marijuana never happens, me and a lot of other people will be leaving this state. You guys can keep living in the past and enjoy your overcrowded faulty prisons, overperscribed pills, and people dying from alcohol. We want a peaceful and positive change. Oklahoma deserves better than this!

  6. Thank you Craig with supplying us with the facts that were determined by medical specialist that use facts from their medical research to determine the medical benefits and declare it safe as well for recreational use! If you wanna outlaw something, may I suggest pulling alcohol from the shelves for good! From personal experience, I can say that alcohol is a legal life destroyer, home wrecker, job terminator, and eventual death sentence for the unfortunate people who lose control over it! Now Shanna, I respect your opinion, as we all have the right to our own beliefs, but can you provide me any names of individuals who have Overdosed and died as a direct result of marijuana use? As residents of Oklahoma, we are victims of our own ignorance that is fueled by the groups of hypocritical make believe Christians that lay claim to the Bible Belt! These are the individuals that profit off of marijuana being a crime! They don’t care about wrong or right, theyre just worried about how they’re going to be able to purchase their high performance police cruisers, tactical gear, $10,000 drug sniffing canines if they can’t charge you as a felon for doing something that is legal just on up the road. Let’s not forget the lawyers, the judges, the private prison owners, among others, that have used this prehistoric law to pack our prisons to the rafters and basically place no value on these individual lives they legally destroy! Oklahomans refuse to address the elephant in the room! The teachers are underpaid, will not get their raises as promised, our roads are basically rubble, we’ve been stripped of our medical care and basically any perk we used to have as a result of paying our taxes! There is one need that our elected officials have place ahead of the tax payer’s quality of life, and knowingly destroyed our state in the process and they more than exceeded their goals and managed to set the national standard in doing so! We are the Incarceration Meca of the world today because of their efforts! Wait, that’s not all, we now rank #1 in both male and female incarceration rates among the United States! I apologize if that may of come across as a little sarcastic, but it’s time for Oklahomans to open their eyes to what is going on around you and quit waiting for the tooth fairy to slip a quarter under your pillow! I can’t even fathom how any of these candidates running for office cannot support SQ788! It’s the only legitimate chance Oklahoma has of making any revenue and our potential elected officials are already trying to cockblock the opportunity! So, if you’re more worried about how the bill is worded than the welfare of our state, remember this, after four years of collective brainstorming, the best solution our elected officials could agree upon to solving Oklahoma’s financial woes and erasing our debt was adding a $1 tax increase to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, once again asking the poverty stricken citizen to dig just a little deeper in order to keep the lights on and the razor wire shining in all Oklahoma prisons! I know personally, if it doesn’t pass, I will be waiting in line with Craig to rent my UHaul as opposed to continue to reside in THE GRAPES OF WRATH!

  7. What’s especially sad are those that haven’t a clue what they’re talking about claiming to be an all knowing wealth of information on the subject. Those include the Rogers County Sheriff Walton, sued for assault & using his police power to stifle speech at a cannabis information meeting, claiming cannabis is a gateway drug. the State AG’s afraid of losing the power to steal “fees” & fines from defendants for possession and sales of civil forfeiture property. Damn, we might not need to build new prisons to warehouse “criminals”. No one has ever died from cannabis. The only way it could kill you is if a bale of it fell on you. The claim a need to pinpoint maladies for it’s use is ludicrous. They apparently claim doctors are in on the ‘deceptive ploy’ as Blake Gideon, the Edmond First Baptist Church claims. These people shouldn’t be given any credit for knowing the truth, ala Trump.
    It appears likely Okiehoma may move closer to the 21st century.

  8. There are 3reasons for cannabis as of right now. Chronic pain, Spasiticity associated with MS and an antiemetic for chemo induced nausea. Any other indication is has no good data to back up its use. This bill needs a complete overhaul to specify exactly who can use this.

  9. I, like many of my brothers, suffer from Chronic, Severe, and Pursuasive Combat related PTSD. I live in Bama where even CBD is illegal. However, the VA here are quick to prescribe Benzo’s, Sedatives, and tranquilizers. Personally, I refuse to become addicted to any addictive substance. However, if I have an episode, I simply take a few hits of medical weed and then begin to calm down and relax to some extent. I strongly support both Medical & Recreational. Heck, we fought a war using it ! 🙂

  10. I would love to reduce the amount oof pain meds. I will try anything if it is legal. Drug company’s need to be prosecuted

  11. Regarding Case’s comment… “there are 3 good reasons…”
    You have a very narrow view sir. There are employment opportunities and hence, tax revenue for the state. Cannabis is much safer and nonaddictive alternative to OK’s out-of-control methamphetamine epidemic – safer for users and Law Enforcement. You fail to mention demonstrable treatments for PTSD, chronic pain, menstrual cramps, and etc. I suggest that- just because you can only name three good reasons – perhaps the universe is bigger than what what you know.

    Further – I believe that recreational use of marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol. Please Google (OK alcohol abuse) and explain to me what potential downside marijuana might have that equals the death, crime, destruction of families, addiction, and etc that is caused by our legal obsession with alcohol. Seems quite a hypocritical position we find ourselves in – yes?

  12. The major issue I have with it, is that 10% of people who start it will become addicted to it whether or not they want that to happen. Those people will then need to increase the dose due to tolerance and they will spend every last penny they have doing it. They will therefore have to turn to obtaining more of it through illegal channels and you know how that ends: Unemployed, not being able to support themselves or their family, and eventually end up in this insane legal situation that addicted people face in this state (not only should they be put into treatment instead of prison, but they are punished like murder one for it in Oklahoma which is not only absurd, I’m convinced it’s being continued – against the will of the people, due to nefarious reasons but that is a different discussion). Unless there is a funded program to take care of those 10% included with the bill, I can’t support it. I treat addiction so the basis of my discussion above is grounded in several years of experience with it – on the front lines of treatment and in the research into the disease of addiction. Thanks.

  13. To Shanna F and others…

    SQ 788 will be up for a vote on 06/26. I strongly encourage everyone to get the facts from both sides of this bill. Get informed and know exactly what you are voting for.

    You are right you should get your facts straight. You are concerned about an employee at a pool that might be watching your kids. You also sais the SQ 788 does not address this. If you have read the legislature you would be better informed that this has been addressed.

    Let me enlighten you:

    Employers may take action against a holder of a medical marijuana license holder if the holder uses or posesses marijuana while in the holders place of employment.

    This is kinda like someone showing up to work drunk. While it is not illegal to drink alcohol it is wrong to show up to work drunk.

    Please be informed before you make your votes!

  14. I am from Oregon, where marijuana has almost been legal my whole life. Everyone uses it there, I thought, as I grew up. Not hard to get. Not a big deal. Not a hard drug.
    I move to Texas and the end of the prohibition started. Oregon made it legal. I visited Oregon after a decade of living in conservative TX, and the effects from the weed tax on the state were amazing. There were new roads, NO litter, tons more trees and incredible cutting edge things I just didn’t see in Texas. Solar-powered everything. Tourists. Beautiful.
    I don’t drink alcohol, I enjoy mj for pain and anxiety relief. I stayed with my father during that Oregon trip, who told me and my fiancé “I’d prefer if you didn’t partake,” but proceeded to get drunk with my stepmom nightly. You’re damn right we partook, all over the state, in every way possible.
    Then we came back and went back to work and school and house work and life in Texas. I’ve thought, why is the world passing us by with legalization? Are people that stupid still? Do they really still think it’s a sin and a gateway drug? Well, it is the Bible Belt.
    I can’t even vote for 788 because I’m in Texas – for the love of humanity, vote YES!!! It would show Texas that a conservative state can legalize like responsible adults.

  15. I have found most rely on social media and others for their research. I support this bill even though it may have needed adjusted. I’m a person who has seizures due to JME and couldn’t hardly work. Having seizures on regular basis going through all kinds of meds. Constantly checking levels in my blood feeling like a pin cushion and less than a man for not supporting my family.
    But thank Our lord for my wife who stood strong for our family. We never had public assistance and after yrs. of marriage I started using cannabis illegally to treat myself. Now able to sleep without insomnia from meds. Thinking not feeling shorted out by all the seizures.
    I thought things were getting back to a normal life. When on our way home one night our youngest daughter started having a violent seizure biting through her tongue appearing to be bleeding to death from her mouth. We were told there was a chance and most don’t and that the affected out grow it. Im now 47 being affected with uncontrolled seizures most of my life. Doing research ourselves we found that if seizures are ever in your family line its there forever affecting family members in this generation and the ones to come.
    So do your own research on your medical, and public officials. Were all humans with our own agenda.
    Were in a new world today don’t matter if your demo. and rep. Our office takers lie cheat and use their own agendas to obtain wealth. So don’t vote with your heart or research by your brothers,sisters or mine. Find the facts and vote for facts. and get the voters agendas across. I believe 788 steps on some elected officals agendas. Sales of alcohol, Pharmacy pills, the convictions of the youth in prisons, ETC.
    History has proven time and time again once and areas resources have depleted the voting people are left with the results. SO vote for your research…
    No disrespect doc but cannabis isn’t crack cocaine. And some of the doctors in the medical field kind of ruined the medical institutions credibility with opioids and fondling.

  16. I just lost my brother to opiates. An that I is a real problem for Oklahoma’s. to long we have set back and watch our family and friends lives be destroyed by a pill. Medical marijuana can and would help people in our state when it comes to opiates. Vote yes sq. 788.

  17. Looking forward to this passing. I suffer all day long with chronic back pain and my only relief is when I get home and become a criminal by smoking marijuana. I hate being a criminal, but I refuse to take opioids. I love my liver and being able to use the restroom. I also like not being addicted. The days I don’t work, I can go without mj and I feel no addiction to it. I can’t think of a better way to treat chronic pain. It’s also been proven that opiod use has dropped drastically in states where marijuana laws are more lax. Yes for me on 788!

  18. I do not understand your either for or against 788 as for me i am for .i pray it does pass and if it does those who vote no can thank those of us who vote yes and were thinking of your loved one who in the future may suffer from cancer, epilepsy, ptsd, or rometory arthritis who pain pills do not work because their body has side effects like kidney failure, stomach ulcers ,or they just have grown an intolerance for the medication which at that time alot of overdoses occur. Which at that time or even before they suffer even worse their physician can give them a script which 788 does require for medical marijuana and they can finally rest.even if legislation has to go back in and up date why not vote yes now and let them fix later.

  19. We the People say this:
    Who is fighting against SQ788?
    1. The Oklahoma Chambers of Commerce, who also was against Obamacare and healthcare for the working poor, and equal pay for women.
    2. The Oklahoma Sheriffs Assn, who bilked millions of dollars from honest citizens in criminal ‘asset forfeiture’ scams, arresting high school kids with felonies, ruining a lifetime of job prospects.
    3. The Private Prison Industrial Complex, who’s stockholders get rich by warehousing tens of thousands of otherwise honest hardworking citizens.
    4. And lastly crooked Oklahoma Republican politicians who take bribes and kickbacks from the drug testing and pharmaceutical lobbiests.
    We the People are sick of it! Time to vote out Republicans who steal our precious tax dollars, and transfer our wealth over to their precious campaign donors. SQ788 is for the People. Not crooked, ignorant, lying scam artists. Register to vote. And vote Democrat. Let’s take back our state, and transfer our wealth back to where it belongs – the working poor and middle class.

  20. Jonathan Brewer, MD – are you talking about prescription pain killers that you hand out like candy? (50 people per day die from prescription painkillers overdoses daily) If you are that 10% number is probably more like 50% and you are handing out a lethal drug. As for the secondary crime related to obtaining either legal or illegal substances with legal weed you can simply grow it, I have yet to see a hydrocodone plant growing anywhere. Stop sucking up money from the pharmaceutical companies and follow your FN oath.

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