How Did Oklahoma Legalize Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is a complex political issue, with many states imposing strict penalties on people who use, grow, and sell cannabis. Oklahoma is no different; the Sooner state enforced harsh regulations for marijuana-related offenses.
Despite strong opposition, many people pushed hard for the legalization of medical cannabis -- finally succeeding in 2018. Here’s how Oklahoma cannabis advocates helped legalize medical marijuana for the patients who need it.
Oklahoma’s Fight for Medical Cannabis
Like many states, marijuana has been illegal in Oklahoma for decades. Cannabis became a Schedule I controlled substance with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and remains illegal on the federal level.
Many people began to change their views when evidence began to confirm marijuana’s medical benefits. Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2154 into law in 2015, which allowed the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) oil with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of .03% or less.
Historically, CBD products have fewer restrictions than other cannabis products since they contain little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. While most cannabis products were not yet legal, the passage of HB 2154 provided a path for advocates to push for wider legalization.
The State Question 788 Referendum
In 2015, Oklahoma cannabis advocates circulated a successful petition to place medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot. However, this vote was delayed after Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt rewrote the title of the initiative that would appear on the ballot. The original language clarified that voters were deciding on whether or not to legalize medical marijuana, while cannabis advocates alleged that Pruitt’s rewrite made it sound like voters were deciding on recreational use.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with this decision, and restored the original ballot title in March 2017. As a result of the lawsuit, Governor Fallin pushed the vote to June 2018, turning the initiative into a referendum known as State Question 788. Oklahoma voters cast their ballots in favor of medical marijuana, and State Question 788 passed with 57% of the vote.
The Medical Marijuana Industry in Oklahoma Today
After the legalization of medical marijuana, the cannabis industry in Oklahoma has boomed. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) began licensing dispensaries in August 2018, and the industry has generated over $42 million in revenue since then. Oklahoma currently leads the country with the most operational dispensaries, with over 2,200 locations and counting.
Although Oklahoma wasn’t subject to multi-year delays when starting its cannabis program, there were a few barriers after State Question 788. The Oklahoma Board of Health voted 5-4 to ban smokable cannabis, but the Board dropped these regulations after advocates filed lawsuits.
Now, patients around the state can apply for a medical marijuana card and receive the cannabis they need to treat their conditions.
Contact the Sanctuary for Your Oklahoma Cannabis Card
Finding the right doctor to evaluate you for an Oklahoma marijuana card can be difficult. Although medical cannabis is legal, some people still hold negative perceptions about marijuana use. The Sanctuary Wellness Institute can connect you with an Oklahoma cannabis doctor who can evaluate your condition and recommend you for a cannabis prescription.
Contact the Sanctuary today to schedule your evaluation and speak with one of our friendly staff members. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the process.