In the days since, trade groups representing potential ganjapreneurs have voiced daily disagreements with each other and Governor Mary Fallin over the best path forward for the program’s regulatory process, leaving industry insiders and lawmakers at odds. Unlike restrictive programs in neighboring states, the Oklahoma ballot measure did not specify any qualifying conditions, and would instead allow doctors to recommend cannabis for any ailment they see fit. In addition to the open access provision, SQ788 requires that state regulators begin accepting cannabusiness license applications my the end of August.
Gov. Fallin had said before the vote that she would call a special session of the legislature to implement a more focused framework for the impending program. Instead, she’s turning all MMJ regulatory powers over to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, a newly formed division of the State Department of Health. Without firm rules for laboratory testing, inventory tracking, and other intricate aspects of the program on the books before licensing begins, NHSO executive director Bud Scott argues that the industry will kickstart the program while it’s still stuck in quicksand. “All of these sub-industries, and the thousands of jobs they represent, require responsible legislation establishing an orderly and fairly regulated marketplace.”
Breaking with that slow and steady approach, Chip Paul, a co-founder of Oklahomans for Health – the group that collected enough signatures to place SQ788 on last month’s ballot – is siding with Gov. Fallin. As of press time, Green The Vote representatives say that they have more than half of the signatures needed to place the question on November’s midterm election. Advocates have called that potential ballot measure a “Safe guard” in case regulators or lawmakers upend the language of SQ788.
For now though, it appears that state lawmakers will leave their hands off of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program, allowing Health Department officials to move forward with plans for a quick start and wide access – no matter what problems may stand in the way.