(Editor’s note: This post was authored by Oklahoma Watch and appears here in accordance with the non-profit journalism organization’s republishing terms.)
Oklahoma Watch will host a public forum previewing what could be one of the most controversial issues on a statewide ballot next year: State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana.
The Oklahoma Watch-Out forum, titled The Marijuana Question, will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, at Central Center at Centennial Park, 1028 E. 6th Street, in Tulsa.
Featured panelists will be Dr. Kevin Taubman of Tulsa, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association; Rep. John Paul Jordan, (R-Yukon), who is drafting legislation related to medical marijuana, and Chip Paul, of Tulsa, co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, a nonprofit that led the effort to put medical marijuana on the ballot. The event is free and open to the public; those interested in attending are encouraged to register at oklahomawatch.org.
Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion, and audience questions will be allowed.
SQ 788 would legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medical purposes. To obtain a license, a patient would need approval from a board-certified physician, and then could possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person and eight ounces of marijuana at home. Licenses also would be required for dispensaries and growing and processing operations. Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 other states and the District of Columbia.
Advocates say medical marijuana would benefit Oklahomans who suffer from various illnesses, including epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and post-traumatic stress disorder. Opponents say not enough research has been done to prove that marijuana is effective as a medicine.
SQ 788 will appear on the Nov. 6, 2018, general-election ballot unless Gov. Mary Fallin places it on a prior statewide ballot, such as Oklahoma’s June 26 primary election.
Medical marijuana forum panelist: Dr. Kevin Taubman
Dr. Kevin Taubman is a vascular surgeon who is president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. He is assistant professor of surgery at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine. He also directs the vascular surgery fellowship program there.
Taubman graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences in 1993. After completing medical school at the American University of the Caribbean in 1999, he entered general surgery residency training at the University of California San Diego–Kern Medical Center program. In 2005, he moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to begin fellowship training in vascular and endovascular surgery at the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Milton S. Hershey Penn State University Medical Center.
Taubman maintains a practice at OU and at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.
Medical marijuana forum panelist: Chip Paul
Chip Paul is a co-founder of Oklahomans For Health, a social-welfare nonprofit that led the effort to place medical marijuana on the ballot.
Paul and his wife Cynthia Paul founded GnuPharma Corp., which sells dietary supplements containing herbs that are “formulated to nutritionally support the endocannabinoid system,” the firm’s website says. The couple previously owned Palm Beach Vapors, which they described as the nation’s first brick-and-mortar e-cigarette franchise. He also owned a franchise in-home care business.
Paul has toured the country researching other states’ marijuana laws. He received a bachelor’s degree in math at the University of Oklahoma.
Medical marijuana forum panelist: Rep. John Paul Jordan
Rep. John Paul Jordan was elected to the Oklahoma House in 2014, serving District 43 as a Republican. Jordan was scheduled to hold an interim-study hearing on medical marijuana in November but canceled it because of the special session over the budget shortfall and the emerging financial scandal at the State Department of Health.
Jordan plans to introduce legislation in the next regular session proposing changes to current laws that he says would need to be made if State Question 788 is approved by voters.
Jordan is an attorney and former educator. He received a bachelor’s in education with a minor in history from the University of Central Oklahoma and taught eighth grade history at an Oklahoma City public middle school.