medical marijuana legislation

NonDoc recently received some kudos from a high-profile source. The administrator of Gov. Mary Fallin’s official Facebook page was kind enough to share our recent revenue failure story on that account’s wall:

While that recognition certainly gives us an acute case of the warm-fuzzies, it’s not half as interesting as the bulk of comments that ensued beneath the post: other Facebook users rabidly calling for the legalization of marijuana.

Legislation going to pot

Sprinkled among oddly-conceived revenue suggestions (which included several calls to deport immigrants and also one suggestion to allow four-wheelers to register for road use) were at least a dozen comments calling subtly and otherwise for Oklahoma to follow in the footsteps of Colorado with regard to the decriminalization of marijuana.

To that end, two bills have emerged this session that would address an Okie’s right to tokie. While neither go so far as the Rocky Mountain high of full decriminalization, they at least speak to the growing body of scientific research that suggests medical marijuana use has significant benefits for certain illnesses.

First, Rep. Eric Proctor’s (D-Tulsa) HB 1877 would create the Medical Marijuana Act of 2017. According to a Journal Record article posted on The Cannabist, the bill basically mimics Arkansas’s recently created medical marijuana framework. Proctor was quoted as saying the bill’s fundamental purpose is to provide Oklahoma a similar set of rules and guidelines in the event Oklahoma’s voters approve the legalization of medical marijuana once Joe Dorman’s successful initiative petition is given a date on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Sen. Anastasia Pittman’s (D-OKC) SB 704 would potentially do a few things:

  • redefine “marihuana” to exclude any substance with less than 0.3 percent of THC, the psychoactive compound that recreational users seek;
  • allow the cultivation and export of industrial hemp;
  • and increase from 0.3 percent to 12 percent the level of THC that can be prescribed for medical use, among other things.

Both bills have yet to be heard in committee meetings, so the certainty of either making it into law remains completely up in the air.

Not so fast there, Cheech

While public support voiced among commenters of Fallin’s recent Facebook post may seem strong, it actually represents a mere vocal minority of activists and pot proponents, some of whom don’t even appear to live in Oklahoma. The fact of the matter is that the Sooner State, as a whole, remains staunchly conservative and religious in its worldview.

In a recent listicle, click-baity site Inquisitr named Oklahoma among one of six states that may never legalize, citing a study from pro-legalization group NORML that named Oklahoma the worst state in which to be caught with weed because of the possible punishments.

Even with the relocation of former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who attempted to hamstring Dorman’s MMJ initiative petition despite strong public support, there’s no guarantee that the sensible aspects of MMJ (increased revenue for the state, reduced suffering for patients of certain diseases, reduced costs of incarcerating for simple possession, etc.), will overcome Mary Jane’s longstanding reputation as a lady of loose morals.