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788 draft
Members of the Board of Health convened a meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In it, they approved the latest draft rules for State Question 788. (Josh McBee)

It took all of three minutes for the Board of Health to enter executive session after commencing a meeting this afternoon at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Members returned after almost an hour.

Upon return, Board Treasurer Becky Payton moved to approve the latest version of emergency rules for implementation of State Question 788, which were posted online this morning.

“It is my understanding that these rules have been approved by the Attorney General’s Office,” she said. The motion passed unanimously.

Gov. Mary Fallin will need to sign the rules for them to take effect.

Revisions, revisions, revisions

On July 31, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority posted a new draft of 788 rules after receiving advice from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. The July 31 summary of new revisions indicates a rollback of some of OMMA’s second-draft changes. A summary of OMMA’s first revisions featured some form of the word “retain” only twice, while the latest summary features some form of “retain” five times. Both summaries featured some form of the word “remove” 25 times.

A previous draft of emergency rules for implementation of SQ 788 was posted on OMMA’s website July 27. That draft of 788’s implementation sought to address the board’s controversial changes made July 10.

During that meeting, amendments were made to the OMMA’s original draft rules. The amendments included, among others, a ban on the sale of smokable forms of marijuana and a requirement that a pharmacist be present in all dispensaries during operating hours.

In a letter sent July 18, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter claimed the Board of Health overstepped its authority and advised they set a special meeting to re-work the rules. Also July 18, Gov. Mary Fallin urged the board of health to reverse its course on its amendments. Fallin previously had approved the controversial, amended rules July 11.

Collateral damage

The drama surrounding the implementation of SQ 788 has also resulted in the termination of two state officials, former OSDH attorney Julie Ezell and former Board of Pharmacy executive director Chelsea Church.

During a meeting July 25, the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy fired Chelsea Church as its executive director. The decision came after NonDoc obtained copies of communications between Church and the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s general counsel, Julie Ezell. The pharmacy board has scheduled a meeting for Aug. 8 to discuss the appointment of a potential interim director.

Board of Health members

The OSDH board is a nine-member body consisting of governor appointments who receive Senate confirmation. Current members include:

  • Timothy E. Starkey, M.B.A. – President
  • Edward A. Legako, M.D. – Vice President
  • Becky Payton – Treasurer
  • Jenny Alexopulos, D.O.
  • Terry R. Gerard II, D.O.
  • Charles W. Grim, D.D.S., M.H.S.A
  • R. Murali Krishna, M.D.
  • Ronald D. Osterhout, M.S.
  • Charles E. Skillings, CEO, President and Director of St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital

Latest rules

Latest amendments