Residents in Deep Red Oklahoma Just Voted to Legalize Medical Marijuana

The question now: Will the governor and her allies try to override the will of the voters?


Crowds gather inside of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma during the teacher walkout in April. Photo credit: CrowdSpark/Newscom

Voters in Oklahoma passed one of the country's broadest medical marijuana ballot measures on Tuesday. But late Tuesday night, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin released a statement suggesting she will work with legislators and state officials to roll back some of the initiative's provisions.

State Question 788 (S.Q. 788), which makes Oklahoma the 30th state to legalize medical use of marijuana, has faced staunch opposition since qualifying for the ballot in June 2017. Law enforcement groups and other opponents spent "roughly half a million dollars [on] television ads seeking to undermine support for medical marijuana," Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell reports.

"This state question creates a special class of citizen out of those who obtain a medical marijuana license," Pawnee County Sheriff Mike Waters told Tulsa's ABC affiliate last month. "It does not make sense that an 18-year-old can go to a veterinarian, say he gets headaches, and then be given a two-year license to carry enough marijuana for 85 joints."

But the efforts of anti-cannabis groups failed to deter voters, who approved S.Q. 788 on Tuesday by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent. As a result, Oklahoma has "one of the broadest medical marijuana measures to be adopted by any state," says Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Despite promising to "respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state," Fallin's election-night statement hints that the victory could be short-lived. "As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana," Fallin's statement says. "I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses."

According to MPP's Tvert, Fallin isn't blowing smoke. "Because it is an initiated statute and not a constitutional amendment," Tvert explains in an email, "lawmakers and regulators will have a lot more flexibility during the implementation process. Making changes or repealing the statute will only require a simple majority in the Legislature, whereas changing or repealing a constitutional amendment would have required approval from the voters in addition to majorities in both legislative chambers."

Under S.Q. 788, license applicants are not limited by a list of disorders, and they need only a recommendation from "an Oklahoma Board certified physician," according to the referendum language (that would seem to preclude veterinarians, contrary to Sheriff Mike Waters' claim). The possession and growing allowances are generous. A person with a medical marijuana license can legally possess up to three ounces "on their person" and grow up to six mature and six immature plants at home, where they can possess up to eight ounces of buds as well as an ounce of concentrate and 72 ounces of edibles. The initiative states that Oklahoma must recognize medical marijuana licenses granted by other states, and it allows cities and counties within Oklahoma to pass local ordinances raising the possession and cultivation limits above those established in the state law.

S.Q. 788 is a little more restrictive when it comes to commercial licenses. Growers, processors, and retailers cannot sell company ownership stakes in excess of 25 percent to non-Oklahoma residents, and a felony criminal history is grounds for rejecting an application. The entire text of the initiative can be read here.

While some of these provisions are likely to be rolled back by Fallin and her allies in the legislature, MPP's Tvert doesn't see them scrapping the law altogether. "It would be a huge political mistake for them to openly defy the voters by repealing the law or implementing it in a way that clearly defies voters' intent," he says. "Legislators should look to other states that have adopted similarly expansive laws for lessons on implementation. The Legislature should establish a system that best reflects the intent of the voters, and the voters clearly intended to establish a system that provides safe, legal, and reliable access to medical marijuana for patients who would benefit from it."

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  1. What I don’t understand is why Sessions dislikes weed so much. You’d think as a Keebler Elf, he’d be excited at the prospect of selling a lot more of his cookies to those who have the munchies; hell, he could bake some MJ into those cookies!

    1. That’s a sore subject. In this timeline, he was let go by Keebler after some… unpleasantness involving employee cars being vandalized in the Nabisco parking lot.

      1. Sessions drew penises on Elves’ cars? This dimension just got better.

        1. Vaginas, actually. Tried to claim they were flowers.

          1. Worked for Georgia O’Keefe

    2. Sessions doesn’t like MJ ’cause all the non-retarded schoolkids kept on stealing his weed! If only he’d try weed now, it would help him get over his long-standing PTSD symptoms from having his weed stolen…

  2. Let em get high, for chrissakes they live in Oklahoma.

  3. How did the vote for smoking marijuana go in Muskogee?

  4. This was all a part of the long game by Wayne Coyne to sell more records. WAKE UP SHEEPLE

    1. Based on the last Flaming Lips show i went to, he’d have done better to push for legal MDMA.

    2. I have a friend who told me she used to sell drugs to Wayne Coyne. She didn’t specify which kinds.

  5. Congrats, Tony!

  6. We are very excited here in the OKC! Well except for my dealer. 😉

    1. Dealers switch to blackmarket weed that is cheaper because no taxes. Same thing happened in Vegas and California.

      1. Switch? Continue

  7. Maybe someday the Controlled Substances Act will be repealed for being unconstitutional. In the mean time, states will continue to legalize weed that was already legal before the Controlled Substances Act while it remains ‘illegal’ federally.

    After people got fed up with the prohibition on alcohol (which was constitutional thanks to the 18A), states didn’t simply make alcohol legal in their states. The ban on alcohol was repealed with the 21st Amendment.

    1. No, the 21st amendment did not repeal the 18th. It replaced it with the godawful three tier distribution scheme and allows states to ban alcohol.

  8. It’s always nice when something good actually happens in my home state. Makes me feel like there’s still reason to hope.

  9. I suspect that if the measure was for medicinal use, it would have also passed. The voters knew that it being so lax that it would be the result anyway and voted for what they could get.

  10. blah blah…” according to the referendum language (that would seem to preclude veterinarians, contrary to Sheriff Mike Waters’ claim). ”

    If I can get myself legally declared to be a dog… I ***DO*** self-identify as a DAWG, dammitt!!!… THEN can I get my veterinarian to prescribe me some weed?!?!?

  11. State Sen. Nathan Dahm was talking about this very thing this morning. He says – and I agree – the question passed by what can be considered a landslide, and any state pols who try to undo the will of the people will be facing a huge backlash in November.

  12. It is great that Oklahoma residents voted for liberty, but let’s not get carried away. Most of them were probably too stupid or uninformed to recognize what they were voting for. That, or they figured that somehow legalization of doobies would stick it to the blacks, Jews, atheists, and college graduates.

  13. Law enforcement groups and other opponents spent “roughly half a million dollars [on] television ads seeking to undermine support for medical marijuana,”

    Law Enforcement Groups need to shut the fuck up and do their jobs, and stop trying to influence the scope of “what should be illegal”.

    1. Those TV ads got ridiculously alarmist. They were implying that restaurants would have to allow customers to smoke weed (presumably basing this on the fact that the law doesn’t specifically ban it). I wouldn’t be surprised if those ads actually increased the votes in favour, because they made the ‘No’ side look so idiotic.

      1. Smoking in public is supposed to follow the same rules as tobacco.

  14. I used to live within a short walking distance of Pawnee County. Never met the sheriff, although I knew several people that talked about how incompetent the Pawnee Sheriff Department was.

  15. “This state question creates a special class of citizen out of those who obtain a medical marijuana license”

    Like every prescription for drugs do.

    How about if we were just free to buy simvastatin, or pot, without getting permission from a government enable rent seeker first?

  16. Mason Tvert should stick to communications. Oklahoma’s passage of a State Question is, in fact, a change to the Oklahoma constitution, so it can only be fiddled with by the legislature insofar as the Question asks them to implement the new law. Our constitution is a very long, slapdash affair, much of which has had to be amended or revoked by the people of the state, because our legislators are morons. We had one guy (Google Ralph Shortey) who spent his legislative career trying to ensure that our food didn’t contain fetuses in it and railing against drug use (which is how you get elected down here, as long as you claim to love Jesus) until he was found in a hotel room with an underage boy and shitload of pot. You might be able to explain a dead girl in bed with you down here, but not a live boy. In any case, our legislature has the ability to call its own State Question to amend this new law, but it would have to be approved by the people, and since they just lost that vote, they’re kind of stuck with it. In 2016 we, the people, made simple possession of all drugs a misdemeanor with State Question 780, along with much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by the same people mentioned in the article. It’ll bring up some interesting probable cause questions for the cops who can smell raw weed a mile away…

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