Oklahoma Pot

Here’s something to recall: After Colorado legalized, Nebraska and Oklahoma sued their neighbor because it’s citizens passed an amendment allowing cannabis. Scott Pruitt (former EPA) was the AG of Oklahoma, and brought the suit. The federal courts tossed the suit because it was ridiculous.

Now Oklahoma has passed a medical marijuana initiative, and I’ve always liked their program as passed: generous possession amounts, liberal qualifications for patients, and a reasonable view on regulation. By far the best medical marijuana program in the country, in concept.

With one mistake, but perhaps unavoidable: The main regulatory authority, the one responsible for making the rules, is the Public Health entity. All medical marijuana states start with this idea on their initiatives to lend some authority to the medical part, but it’s never worked out, and sometimes it’s been a disaster. On the other hand, if there was some honesty involved, putting it under “Tax Revenue” or “Business Development” would send the wrong message to the voters.

Now, Oklahoma has accepted the results of the election and is diving head-first into their new responsibilities; there’s no bureaucratic foot-dragging, despite having a very hostile governor. That’s good.

But looking at their first-draft of regulations, it’s obvious the rule-makers haven’t a clue what they are doing. I have a rule-of-thumb when reading about this subject: If someone proposes limits on THC levels, they are ignorant of the plant, have no useful role in public policy, and have completely ignored all the experience of the other states.

Which is typical of Public Health, they are ignorant.

Another sure sign things aren’t going well is that they immediately prohibited smoking cannabis. Florida does this, requiring only edibles. (Other states might prohibit edibles, only allowing smoking). Whichever form of ingestion you favor, it’s useless to prohibit the other and create a robust under-the-counter market. Yes, we know smoking cigarettes likely causes cancer, but the amounts of cannabis involved are trivial.

Then they propose that stores (they are using the term “dispensary”) be staffed with a pharmacist. Again, a sign of utter ignorance. No pharmacist is trained or licensed in the substance, and no research or guidelines have been published for them to use.

What I’m looking for is a sign that the OK regulatory folk will take a few breaths and ask around about what they are doing, before putting out garbage first-drafts.

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