Mike Hunter
Oklahoma Board of Health members mingle after its meeting Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (William W. Savage III)

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has advised the state Board of Health to convene a special meeting and amend the controversial medical marijuana rules it passed July 10.

In a letter sent to the state’s interim commission of health, Hunter said the board “overstepped its authority” by making policy decisions about medical marijuana statutes passed June 26 by voters.

“The current rules contain provisions that are inconsistent with the plain language of State Question 788 and the State Board of Health acted outside of its authority when it voted to implement them,” Hunter said in a press release this morning. “Although I didn’t support State Question 788, the people of the state have spoken and I have a legal duty to honor the decision made by the electorate. My advice today is made pursuant to that responsibility as attorney general.”

Monday, interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates sent Hunter a letter requesting “the advise and counsel” about what to do concerning lawsuits filed against the Board of Health amended medical marijuana rules.

The board had met July 10 to approve the rules, which had gone through a public comment period. A new board member, Charles Skillings, made a motion to amend rules so as to prohibit the distribution of smokable marijuana. The board also voted to require a pharmacist be present at medical marijuana dispensaries.

“Moving forward, I encourage all stakeholders to engage with the legislative working group looking at medical marijuana to ensure they have their concerns and recommendations heard and addressed by the Legislature,” Hunter said in his press release.

Hunter was appointed to the position of attorney general in 2017, and he is in a tightly contested Republican runoff election against challenger Gentner Drummond. GOP voters will select one or the other as their party’s attorney general nominee Aug. 28.

The agency’s general counsel, Julie Ezell, resigned Friday and is now facing criminal charges for allegedly creating an anonymous email address from which to send herself threatening messages ahead of the July 10 Oklahoma Board of Health vote.

Hunter sent his letter of response to Bates on Wednesday. It appears below in full.

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