Oklahoma Health Official: State is Ready to Regulate Medical Marijuana

By Tim Talley and Adam Kealoha Causey

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The head of Oklahoma’s health agency said Wednesday, June 27, 2018, that there’s a framework in place to get the medical cannabis industry rolling in the state soon, despite concerns from Republican Gov. Mary Fallin that a statewide vote “opens the door” for recreational marijuana use.

Oklahoma voters easily approved State Question 788 on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, allowing cannabis to be used as medicine in the traditionally conservative state. The measure, which was approved by nearly 57 percent of voters, says applications for a medical cannabis license must be available on the agency’s website within 30 days of the measure’s passage. A regulatory office to receive applications for medical marijuana licenses, recipients and dispensary growers must be operating within 60 days.

Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates said the Oklahoma Department of Health has been developing proposed rules and regulations in case the medical marijuana program was approved by voters since he was named to the post on April 1, 2018. He said the agency is prepared “to implement a medical marijuana model as required by the state question.”

“We do have a lot to take care of in a tight timeframe,” Bates said.

Bates said state health officials will meet July 10, 2018, to consider emergency rules for the new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Application information and requirements will be available on the agency’s website by July 26, 2018, and applications will be accepted by Aug. 25, 2018.

The term-limited Fallin said before the vote that she would call lawmakers into a special session to develop rules to regulate the industry, but she toned down her comments after the election results were clear.

“I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana,” Fallin said in a statement Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

GOP state Senate leader Greg Treat said he doesn’t think members of his party, the majority, are interested in a special session.

“Whatever we do will just to be so make sure we don’t overturn the will of the people,” the president pro-tempore-designate told reporters Wednesday.

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