It was 2016 when a grassroots campaign managed to secure a spot on the ballot for their medical marijuana initiative in Oklahoma – but due to the long process of validating signatures it did not make it to the November ballot that year. The activist group found out it would be 2 years, in 2018, before voters would get a chance to have their say on State Question 788. But last week the 2018 midterm election arrived, and voters chose to make Oklahoma the 30th state to allow access to full plant marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“Public support for medical marijuana access is non-partisan,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement. “Even in a predominantly ‘red’ state like Oklahoma, it is the will of the voters to enact common sense, yet significant marijuana law reforms.”
The new law will allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition where they think it could be beneficial – which is a change from the usual route taken by states where doctors must stick to a list of qualifying conditions or conditions of similar type and severity.
It will also allow patients to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis in public, and store up to eight ounces it home. The law also allows for possession of up to an ounce of concentrates and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles. Home cultivation is allowed with a maximum of six mature plants and six seedlings at a time. Patients who do not have a medical marijuana ID card can be found with up to 1.5 ounces and if they can prove a valid medical condition, will only be charged with a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $400.
All this makes for a much less restrictive law than what is found in most states that allow broad access to medical marijuana. The combination of a loosely written law and the extreme political opposition coming from the state’s governor and groups like the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association and the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, all prove that most voters are aware of the true benefits of medical marijuana and want to see patients have legal access to a medicine that works.
“It is noteworthy that this measure passed in such a red state during a primary election, when voter turnout tends to be older and more conservative than during a general election,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release. “Support for medical marijuana is overwhelming, and it spans the political and demographic spectrums.”
Lawmakers do have the ability to make changes to the new law – and from the looks of it there may be some changes coming. In the meantime, patients and activists can rest easy now that their long wait is finally over and the initiative has officially become law with a 56.8 percent approval.