Hawaii Cannabis logo

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n593/a09.html
Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Mon, 29 Aug 2016
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2016 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Website: http://newsok.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/318


AFTER several failed efforts, proponents of legalizing “medical” marijuana in Oklahoma may have collected enough signatures to put the issue before voters.  So it’s worth looking at the actual content of this measure, even though logistical challenges may postpone a vote until after November’s elections.

Prior medical marijuana proposals have been laughably broad.  The legal language for proposed State Question 788 is better, but problems and loopholes remain that should concern Oklahomans.

Proponents like to portray the proposed system as comparable to going to the drugstore for a prescription painkiller.  But the language of SQ 788 undermines that image.  Under the proposal, someone with a state-issued medical marijuana license could both produce and use marijuana.  That’s not typical for most controlled substances.

Under the proposed law, all applications for a medical license must be signed by an Oklahoma board-certified physician using “the accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.”

That sounds like a safeguard, until one recalls Oklahoma’s existing problem with “pill mill” doctors who hand out opioids like candy.  Similar abuses appear likely with medical marijuana, especially when you consider that the proposed law mandates “no qualifying conditions” are required for a marijuana prescription.  In other words, someone claiming to have a headache could technically qualify.

Then there’s the cost of the license.  For most Oklahomans, a marijuana license would cost $100.  But for those on Medicaid, the cost would be $20.  So the proposal would charge low-income citizens less to smoke dope than others.

Marijuana retailers and commercial growers would be required to provide monthly reports on production and sales.  However, those businesses would face penalties only if those reports highlight a “gross discrepancy” that “cannot be explained.” What constitutes a “gross discrepancy” is left undefined, which opens the door for backdoor diversion of marijuana to purely recreational sales.  For those concerned about property rights, another provision is especially alarming.  The proposed law declares, “No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his status as a medical marijuana license holder,” unless the landowner would be penalized under federal law or regulations.

In short, property owners could not refuse to rent an apartment or house to someone who smokes “medical” marijuana, or they would face the threat of lawsuit.

Yet as the site rentprep.com notes, “smokers are not a protected class under federal or state law,” which means “it is not illegal for you to refuse smoking tenants” to keep a rental property 100 percent smoke free.

Thus, under SQ 788, those who smoke tobacco wouldn’t be a protected class, but those who smoke marijuana would be.  Landlords could be penalized for trying to preserve the value of their property by keeping it smoke free and by refusing tenants whose drug use could lead to other problems.

And the language regarding schools appears so broad it could apply to private schools and colleges, exposing them to lawsuits regarding admission or expulsion of “licensed” students who use marijuana.

SQ 788 proponents portray their proposal as an effort to alleviate the suffering of cancer patients.  A closer look suggests the actual outcomes will be far broader, and far less beneficial to Oklahoma. 

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom