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Oklahoma bipartisan group to implement 'will of voters' in medical marijuana implementation

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Posted at 3:13 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-13 09:46:53-04

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat announced Thursday the creation of a bipartisan group of House and Senate members that will work to implement the will of voters who recently approved State Question 788.

The group will work with medical marijuana stakeholders to determine a path forward after the Oklahoma State Board of Health put in place strict emergency rules for medical marijuana that pot advocates say are intentionally aimed at delaying the voter-approved use of medicinal cannabis. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the rules on Wednesday.

“We have an obligation to voters to get this right,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “The House is committed to implementing the will of our citizens in a responsible way that respects the desire of voters while also protecting public safety and addressing concerns from the business and medical communities. We have many lawmakers who want to be involved in crafting a permanent regulatory framework more in line with what the voters want and expect. This group will begin evaluating the Department of Health’s recently adopted and approved rules and meeting with the governor’s office, medical marijuana industry representatives, Health Department officials, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to determine the best approach forward.”

“The Oklahoma Senate will not undo the will of voters, who spoke loudly by passing State Question 788,” said Sen. Treat, R-Edmond. “While the Health Department and its commissioner did yeoman’s work in drafting emergency rules, the Board of Health’s adoption of last-minute amendments without public comments has undermined the public’s confidence in the system. Lawmakers have the ability to amend this law as we move forward to address any issues which may arise. A group of senators has been working diligently on this issue since April, and the new bipartisan, bicameral working group will be able to build upon that work. Lawmakers will work with all stakeholders to ensure we get this right. The legislative working group will help ensure a stable and effective regulatory framework is put in place so that State Question 788 can be implemented efficiently, effectively and safely in accordance with the will of Oklahoma voters.”

The members of the group will be announced next week.

Fallin signed the rules on Tuesday, just one day after the state's Board of Health adopted them at an emergency meeting after last-minute changes to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and require a pharmacist at every pot dispensary.

Those late additions to the rules infuriated longtime medical marijuana advocates who helped get the measure on the ballot last month, when nearly 57 percent of voters approved it. Fallin's quick signature came just as they were rallying supporters to urge her to reject them.

Doctors, hospitals, pharmacists and chambers of commerce opposed the medical marijuana state question.

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