Medical marijuana rule changes clearly the result of lobbying effort (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.

In my opinion, the State Board of Health stubbed its toe last week with last minute changes to its published, proposed rules implementing the medical marijuana proposal just passed by vote of the people. The Oklahoma State Pharmaceutical Association along with the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Hospital Association seemed to be at the forefront of the effort to get the Board of Health to amend its proposed rules.

The proponents of medical marijuana brought some of this on themselves by providing that the law would take effect only 30 days from the time of passage by the people. Laws passed by the legislature can only take effect 90 days after adjournment of the legislature unless an emergency clause is attached, which requires a 2/3 vote of both the House and Senate. This provision in the constitution gives the executive branch time to prepare for implementing the new law. But the State Health Department, knowing it had only 30 days, did a good job, up to the time its board met, of anticipating the need for the rules and preparing and publishing proposed rules.

One can hardly blame the proponents of medical marijuana for wanting to make the law effective quickly. And their wisdom in doing so can be seen in what has happened with the Board of Health. Some of the forces who opposed passage of the measure seem to have immediately turned their efforts from campaigning against it to lobbying the Board of Health to substitute their judgment for that of the people. It seems obvious the changes were the result of a lobbying effort. Otherwise, where were these concerned board members when the rules were being developed and published prior to passage of the measure? I don’t know how medical marijuana laws work in the other 30 states that have them, but it seems doubtful that medical marijuana cannot be smoked or that a pharmacist must oversee the sale of marijuana.

Probably the worst thing about this action is the taint it casts on state government with many who are already skeptical. It takes a certain degree of certitude if not arrogance to undermine a law that just received a 14-point margin of victory in a vote of the people. And that after an expensive campaign against it. When I first read that the recreational marijuana proposal now being circulated was to be a constitutional amendment, I wondered why such a thing should be put in the constitution. Now I know.


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.

5 thoughts on “Medical marijuana rule changes clearly the result of lobbying effort (Capitol Update)

  1. thought this was medical ? I can understand the CBD oils as their are studies to back this , and I can understand a pharmacists need to be their , if their going to mix this for dosage ? and I don’t understand the clause not permitted for vaping ? these are tools to help administer the drug , like that of a spoon , or eye dropper etc. and yet this is administered straight to the lungs , just as smoking weed does .If we are not speaking CBD’s here ? then we are speaking state run head shops , and I for one, don’t think that pharmacist should risk their license.but it was a state blunder not to clearly make it known what the people were really voting on . At this point their is alot of misconception out their , as for going into a special session on this matter , I say no . at the expense of 30,700 a day , let government take this up in the fall .

  2. would also like to see funding change . 15% for the State Police
    10% for Local law enforcement in cities
    10% for Local law enforcement in counties
    20% go to districts and counties for infrastructure .
    and 10% to education
    10% to DHS

  3. No, law enforcement has done plenty. We don’t need anymore of their help with marijuana, thanks.

    Many people tried to “do it the right way” and this is what they get in return. The vote was 57-43, which is overwhelming in political terms. Since there is still a minority standing in the way of sensible regulation, then I guess we’ll have to legalize it across the board. Y’all left us no choice

  4. Alma – dispensaries will not be state owned. That was never part of the plan from either side. Pharmacists cannot legally dispense substances that are still in the Federal government’s illegal list. Pharmacists do not need to “mix this for dosage”. The amendments made to stop dispensaries from selling smokable products was created specifically to make it harder for patients to get cannabis, as the current rules require that one cannot consume it the way god has created it. Under the temporary emergency rules, cannabis must now be processed/chemically extracted and then put in to a different product (edible/etc). How is it a state blunder to “not make it known what the people were voting on”? 10’s of thousands of Oklahomans signed the petition which was written by ordinary citizens. 500,000+ ordinary citizens then chose to vote YES on the law. Citizens are outraged at what the health department did. Why is the health department so concerned with cannabis, a substance that kills less people than PEANUTS? Shouldn’t they be more concerned that OK ranks near the top of the lists of methamphetamine overdoses, opioid overdoses, obesity, heart disease and many other TRUE matters of public health? No, of course they aren’t because their goal is to please the powerful pharmaceutical lobbying groups and other special interests. OK Department of Health = corrupt trash. Oklahoma’s health rankings compared to other states = trash.

  5. Lemme get this straight: It is OK to lobby to expand an evil but it is not OK to lobby against it? Oh – and God also created opium.

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