URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n589/a07.html
Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2016
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2016 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Website: http://newsok.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/318
Author: Barbara Hoberock


Controversy continued to swirl Friday over a ballot title rewrite for a state question aimed at legalizing medical marijuana.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Thursday released his rewritten version of the ballot title for State Question 788.

On Friday, the attorney general’s office received several calls thanking the office for the quick turnaround time on the revision and questioning “our rewrite,” said Lincoln Ferguson, a Pruitt spokesman.

The ballot title summarizes a state question for voters.

The revision includes: “This measure legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma.  There are no qualifying medical conditions identified.”

Pruitt stands by the revision, Ferguson said.

“Unfortunately, the attorney general couldn’t help himself and injected his own political views,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director.

The end result is a very confusing ballot title that makes it appear like approving the question would be a vote for outright legalization of marijuana, Kiesel said.

Pruitt’s ballot title ends with “This measure does not change federal law, which makes use, sale, and growth of marijuana illegal.”

The U.S.  Department of Justice in 2013 issued a memorandum on enforcement in response to states that were moving to make some form of marijuana legal.

“The …  memorandum provides guidance to United States Attorneys on the proper prioritization of marijuana enforcement in their districts given the number of states that have moved to legalize marijuana for medicinal, agricultural, or recreational use,” said Peter Carr, a U.S.  Department of Justice spokesman.  “Specifically, the …  memorandum lists eight federal law enforcement priorities where the department will focus its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources in all states.”

Those priorities are: distribution of marijuana to minors; revenue from marijuana sales from going to criminal enterprises; the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law to other states; state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as cover for illegal activity; violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use; the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and marijuana possession or use on federal property.

“As chief law enforcement officer for the state, the attorney general has a duty to uphold federal and state law and an obligation to inform the citizens of Oklahoma if they will be voting on a measure to become law that does in fact contradict federal law,” Ferguson said.

Challenge planned

Supporters of the effort to legalize medical marijuana, a group called Oklahomans for Health, say they plan to file a challenge to the rewrite before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which could return it to the original language, rule for Pruitt or undertake its own revision.

Supporters gathered 67,761 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, although only 65,987 were required.  It was the first successful effort among three attempts to get the issue before voters.

A series of deadlines and a potential protest mean the measure will not be on the Nov.  8 ballot, but could be on a special election ballot or a 2018 primary or general election ballot.

It is not the first time Pruitt has been criticized over a ballot title revision.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found that Pruitt’s ballot titles for two criminal justice reform measures were “misleading and partial.” The court rewrote the ballot titles after supporters of the measures lodged a challenge against the Pruitt versions.



Original ballot language:

This measure amends the Oklahoma State Statutes.  A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes.  A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician.  The State Department of Health will issue medical marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen years or older and an Oklahoma resident.  A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen, however these applications must be signed by two physicians and a parent or legal guardian.  The Department will also issue seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research and caregiver licenses.  Individual and retail businesses must meet minimal requirements to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees.  The punishment for unlicensed possession of permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals who can state a medical condition is a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars.  Fees and zoning restrictions are established.  A seven percent state tax is imposed on medical marijuana sales.

Rewritten ballot language:

This measure legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma.  There are no qualifying medical conditions identified.  Possession and use of marijuana is authorized through a medical marijuana license that is valid for two years, rather than by prescription.  An Oklahoma board certified physician must recommend the license using the same accepted standards for recommending other medications, and must sign the application for the license.  The State Department of Health must issue a license to an applicant who:

submits a valid application,

is eighteen years or older, and

is an Oklahoma resident.

Applications for individuals under eighteen must be signed by two physicians and by a parent or legal guardian.  The Department also issues seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research, and caregiver licenses to those who meet certain minimal requirements.  A 7 percent state tax is imposed on retail sales of marijuana.  Unlicensed possession by an individual who claims to have a medical condition is punishable by a fine not exceeding $400.  “Local government cannot use zoning laws to prevent the opening of a retail marijuana store.  This measure does not change federal law, which makes use, sale, and growth of marijuana illegal. 

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom