State Question 788: Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Justin Rose
Staff Writer

On June 26, the state of Oklahoma will vote on State Question 788. This could be one of the most important State Questions in modern Oklahoma history.

For anybody who doesn’t know, State Question 788 is the Medical Marijuana Legislation initiative.

A vote for “yes” would support the measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes. A vote for “no” would oppose the same measure.

While it would legalize the medical use of cannabis, a person couldn’t just walk into their doctor’s office and get a prescription.

An Oklahoma citizen would first need to obtain a state-issued medical marijuana license, which requires a board-certified physician’s signature.

A license would cost 100 dollars, and it would last a total of two years. A person under the age of 18 would need the signatures of two physicians instead of just one, as well as approval from his or her parents or guardians.

There would be no specific qualifying conditions to be able to get a license.

A person who gets a license would be able to possess up to three ounces of cannabis on-person and up to eight ounces in their home.

A seven percent tax would be placed on all cannabis sales.

The revenue that would be collected from this tax would first go toward covering regulatory costs.

Any surplus from the tax would be split between education and the Oklahoma State Department of Health for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

However, it wouldn’t be an even split.

Seventy-five percent of the surplus would go toward education, and the remaining 25 percent would go to the Department of Health.

For those wondering if employers would be able to penalize you, as long as you have a medicinal marijuana card, you don’t have to worry.

The initiative would forbid employers, landlords and schools from doing so.

Employers would only be able to take action against you if you possess or use cannabis while on the job.

The initiative not only brings in much needed revenue for the state, but is also very beneficial to patients.

Cannabis can be used to treat more conditions than just glaucoma and cancer.

Cannabis’ uses in medicine are mostly related to one key effect it produces: Cannabis is an effective, non-addictive pain reliever.

It’s absurd to think that people suffering from chronic pain, among other conditions, are being prescribed opioids that are highly addictive and dangerous, when they could be using a medication that’s not physically addictive and hasn’t killed anybody in recorded history.

Even more absurd is the fact that many legislators would be against legalization despite its possible applications as a source of state revenue.

Let’s take into account that Oklahoma’s lawmakers, as well as its citizens, are currently facing a 611-million-dollar budget hole.

I can only imagine how much money is being spent by the state policing, litigating and incarcerating its own citizens for a drug that could be used for such good.

If this initiative passes, money will be freed up.

Combine that money with the money that will be collected through the seven percent tax, and I think that budget hole will lessen over time.

Whether through in-person conversation or through social media, I constantly see Oklahomans brag about how they are always for individual freedoms and how big government shouldn’t infringed upon those rights.

Why shouldn’t the ability to use cannabis be one of those rights?

A person using cannabis in their own home has never affected anyone but the person using it.

Why should the government continue to try to prosecute individuals for doing something that makes them happy, while at the same time, not hurting anyone else?

Oklahoma is also facing a problem with the overcrowding of prisons.

Fifty percent of the prison population are individuals doing time for non-violent drug offenses.

If this state question passes on June 26, then I believe those serving time for non-violent drug offenses should be pardoned.

Not only will this help solve the problem of overpopulation, but it would free up tax dollars that are used to house them.

That money can be used on stuff we desperately need, like better education and fixing the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

I’ve read the arguments being pushed on the “Vote NO OK788” Facebook page and they simply don’t make sense.

They claim this isn’t about medicine, but for a full-blown legalization of cannabis.

That simply isn’t the case. As I mentioned above, in order to obtain a medical marijuana card, you have to go through a board-certified physician.

Those against the legalization of medicinal marijuana claim this bill makes it so if a person has a medical card, a potential employer won’t be able to drug test them.

Again, that isn’t the case at all. They will still be able to drug test them, they just won’t be able to discriminate against a cannabis user if they have a license to use it.

It’s just like now: if a person has a prescription for opioids or any anti-anxiety medicine, an employer is still able to drug test them.

In January 2018, an Oklahoma poll conducted by “Sooner Poll” found 44.6 percent of those asked strongly supported the initiative, while 17.2 percent somewhat supported it.

31 percent of those that were asked either somewhat opposed or completely opposed the initiative.

Whether you support or oppose state question 788, please register and vote on June 26.

Every vote matters; let your voice be heard.

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