Oklahoma Board of Health Adopts Less Restrictive Rules for Medical Marijuana

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2018, adopted new guidelines for the use of medical cannabis in the state after earlier rules hastily adopted in July 2018 came under harsh criticism from the attorney general and medical marijuana advocates.

The state Board of Health voted unanimously to adopt new rules that amend or entirely revoke the previous guidelines, including eliminating a ban on the sale of smokable pot and requirements that a pharmacist must be in every dispensary, and that women of “childbearing age” undergo a pregnancy test.

Also eliminated were guidelines that limited levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in products and plants. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter had said that none of those regulations were authorized under State Question 788, the proposal to legalize medical marijuana that Oklahoma residents approved on June 26, 2018, with 57 percent of the vote. The law is scheduled to go into effect 60 days after passage.

The board unexpectedly approved the rules during an emergency meeting on July 10 despite a warning from its own attorney. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed them into law the next day.

Fallin’s communication secretary, Michael McNutt, said the governor wants to review the new guidelines with her legal staff and has 45 days to accept or reject them.

The original rules approved by the board earlier this month prompted outrage from medical marijuana supporters who said they were far too restrictive.

Two marijuana advocacy groups filed lawsuits challenging the rules, and Hunter said the board had overstepped its authority. Board members on Wednesday met behind closed doors with a representative of Hunter’s office for almost one hour to discuss the lawsuits but took no action when they reconvened their public meeting.

Health officials said applications for marijuana-related businesses became available last week and that they plan to begin accepting applications no later than Aug. 25.

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