Oklahoma Cannabis Reform 2021

Written by Mark Pedersen

Written by Mark Pedersen

February 21, 2021

It’s a Brand New Year for Oklahoma.  Cannabis change has certainly come, more so for Oklahomans than perhaps any other state.

Change is a mixed bag, unfortunately, American citizenry have only marginal control over their destiny. The elect are not bound by their oath to the people. There is a vast expanse between the desires of the powers-that-be and their constituents. Those who rule more often than not side with industry; the money. As with industry, politicians see the human masses as merely a necessary commodity; a means to attaining their desires.

This is what drew me to the initiative process. The ability to bypass lawmakers, even the Governor of a state and take an issue… most particularly crucial issues… like Cannabis, to the people, so that the masses can determine THEIR own Cannabis future.
Unfortunately, the initiative process is only as just, as altruistic as its writers. When their focus is on building an industry, rather than serving the people, handing off the state’s Cannabis freedoms to prohibitionist lawmakers to garner political favor should only be expected.
I’ve talked about this for years… how poorly written initiatives lead to a never-ending flurry of House and Senate bills. It’s a guarantee when the most crucial issues of legalization are not addressed… or worse, left to the state’s lawmakers to muck up.

Of course, this isn’t exclusive to Oklahoma. We watched this play out in other states…actually every state, to date. I was one of the many who testified in Colorado’s State House as patient/caregiver rights were being eroded. That was only one of many hearings that addressed what was to lead to hundreds of pages of regulations drafted by Colorado’s all too prolific elect.

There are so many issues that should simply be understood when considering someone’s welfare and the medicine they require. In this “Punishment Culture”, who has the right to deny another sustenance?
If Cannabis were truly understood in the same way as one who is battling very serious chronic or terminal illness, would it still be relevant to argue whether or not to allow a patient in the criminal justice system should have access?

Here is a summary of a few (certainly not all) Oklahoma’s Senate and House bills that touched on Cannabis access.

HB1017      Criminal procedure; prohibiting revocation of suspended sentence under certain circumstances; effective date.

Like all too much Cannabis “reform”, the devils are in the details. 

“Whenever a sentence has been suspended by the court after conviction of a person for any crime, the suspended sentence may not be revoked, in whole or part, for any person who uses or possesses medical marijuana pursuant to a valid medical marijuana patient license…”

Now, if this edit ended here, there would be no doubt, this would be vital for Oklahoma’s patients.  Unfortunately, there is an “unless,”

“…unless;

“The sentencing court previously found that, based on material evidence, prohibiting the otherwise lawful use and possession of medical marijuana is necessary and appropriate to accomplish the goals of sentencing;” 

Considering the plight of a cancer patient, what  qualifies the “sentencing court” to make a decision that would literally be “life or death”?

And it continues…

“or the person was convicted of driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or convicted of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by the use of marijuana.”

First off, please note that in this sentence, there is NO vehicular crime committed. The only crime is consuming Cannabis. Since “impairment” is entirely subjective, ANY consumption would be deemed as “impairing”.  So,  it should be derived that ANYONE who consumes Cannabis, medicinally or electively, should consider themselves a criminal the moment they sit down behind a wheel.  Be assured, law enforcement will most certainly label you one, if or when you are stopped.

So what continues is the all to often, “two steps forward, one step back” drill. It’s an uphill struggle, putting Band-Aids on bad policy.

HB1960               Medical marijuana; authorizing dispensaries to deliver to certain private residences; effective date.

Regarding the “delivery” additions provided with this bill… There’s no way around it. This is an important development for Oklahoma’s Cannabis patients.

The poor, the elderly – in general, those who cannot or choose not to drive – all need to have access.  Oklahoma’s “delivery” does come with regulation, however. It does come with considerable restrictions:

  • Delivery licensing for the dispensary. 

    If in licensing there were some accountability, safeguards for patients, video monitoring of deliveries, etc.  Well not everything yet.
  • Ten mile radius limit.   

    I see no benefit for patients in limiting the delivery radius.
  • Transporter license.  

    This one ties in with the first point regarding accountability.
  • One delivery per patient per day limit.

    This one has absolutely no benefit for the patient or the state. This has everything to do with restricting what they conceive is recreational use. Of course, their actions are at the expense and hardship of the patient.
  • Deliveries only to residences.

    With this, they are saying that ALL Cannabis use should be conducted behind locked doors and drawn shutters, of an “adult’s” own home. Like students and hard working Americans do not require Cannabis to have a productive life.  Which leads to the next point…
  • Exclusion of all public and private “school or on the campus of an institution of higher education.” 

    This is bigotry. Apparently, someone in the statehouse is afraid that our schools will be filled with clouds of Cannabis smoke, with people lighting up in classrooms. Apparently authority is no longer expected within our institutions of higher learning, nor accountability on the part of the students.

Do we segregate diabetics from the general population?  As someone who requires Cannabis to have any quality of life…and someone who is a diabetic, I truly get the analogy.
I have spoken virtually every day for the last seven years with late stage cancer patients who quite literally depend on Cannabis to sustain their lives. Perhaps that would be a better comparison.

HB1961      Legislative referendum; creating the Oklahoma Adult Access to Marijuana Act; defining terms; effective date; ballot title; directing filing.

This is a means, by way of the Oklahoma State House, to place the “Oklahoma Adult Access to Marijuana Act” on the next General Ballot.

THIS IS NOT LEGALIZATION.

“An Excise (sin tax) tax 15% above sales tax to be paid by non registered patients to the General Revenue Fund.”

This “referendum” is actually a poorly drafted “recreational access” bill. It carries the same tired old concessions to law enforcement and prohibitionists in general.

It is vitally important to scrutinize anything that affects the state’s constitution. Most particularly, when there are additional reductions in freedom – which are more often than not, hidden. So you have to look for them.
Limits on possession mean penalties for infractions. We find them here. How can that by just, when we’re talking about such an important , NONTOXIC commodity?
Excise, or “sin” taxes are penalties for use, like those you pay for cigarettes or alcohol. Seems strange that we would have to pay a penalty fee for purchasing the medicine that provides many of us at least some quality of life.

(This) Act does not permit driving while under the influence of mj or to distribute to someone under 21, or carry onto property of employer”

Whether intentional or not, this is entrapment.  It would be ridiculous for ANYONE to believe that those who consume Cannabis would all just QUIT DRIVING – and WORKING. There is no sound way to determine Cannabis “impairment”.
Unfortunately , with this law, patients are left with little to convince a prohibitionist employer that medical Cannabis consumption does not have to equate to a safety hazard.

In the absence of a REAL understanding of “Cannabis impairment”, the author is arbitrarily placing all authority regarding the matter in the hands of the employer and law enforcement.

The issue of DUI’s and Cannabis must be addressed. I spoke specifically on this issue in my article “Cannabis and DUI“.

Wording, as is found in this bill, only further confuses the matter. And unnecessarily, places Cannabis patients in harm’s way.

HB2004      Medical marijuana; clarifying duties and functions of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority; codification; emergency.

Perhaps most significant about this edit to Oklahoma Cannabis law is that it offers all U.S. citizens who meet Oklahoma patient requirements the opportunity to obtain a temporary (90 day) patient license. This even encompasses patients from states that DO NOT have a medical Cannabis program.

“…applicants who meet all requirements applicable to medical marijuana patient license applicants prescribed by law or rule, except the residency requirement provided for in subsection G of this section.

This is unprecedented. To date, I know of no other statehouse in the country that has been so bold. Here’s hoping Oklahoma begins a trend with this one.

HB2216      Medical marijuana; providing for the recognition of out-of-state medical marijuana certifications or licenses; codification; effective date.

This bill spoke specifically to the issue of nonresident patients, extending nonresident medical marijuana licenses from 30 days to TWO YEARS. That is a big deal! This is not only a clever way to bring the nation’s Cannabis consumers to Oklahoma, but by increasing the length of the licenses, it insures MUCH repeat sales. Imagine… legislation that benefits the “pot industry” AND patients… Who would have thought it possible?

Fetgatter stated publicly, “It does allow people in all 50 states to come to the state of Oklahoma for their medical needs.” 
I would like to speak to this gentleman.

HB2179       Medical marijuana; providing for animal patient medical marijuana licenses; effective date.

This is an edit of Colorado’s law regarding pets and Cannabis.

2.  “Upon issuance of an animal patient medical marijuana license, the licensee shall be authorized to purchase edibles, tinctures or topicals for the animal patient.  The animal patient medical marijuana licensee shall not be authorized and is specifically prohibited from purchasing any medical marijuana or medical marijuana product not specifically provided for in this subsection.” 

This was bound to come. The potential for a new revenue stream was just too tempting. What scares me is the thought of losing authority over our pets’ care.
This bill mandates the involvement of a Veterinarian. Cannabis therapies are still quite new for most human physicians. It’s a bit much to expect that Veterinarians would be any more advanced in their understanding of canine or feline endocannabinoid systems.  Should we be granting Veterinarians the authority to determine whether or not our pet should have access? This could become a VERY slippery slope for pet owners.

Please note: this was not a slight to the vast number of other pets who also have an endocannabinoid system... like…all.

HB2217       Public health and safety; limiting locations in which certain commercial marijuana businesses may operate; effective date.

Basically mandates that the Oklahoma Department of Health shall share all licensing information, outside specific patient information, with law enforcement.  Perhaps it sounds scarier than it really is. I most certainly would hope so.

HB2482      Medical marijuana; prohibiting certain persons from seeking licensure; effective date.

This bill creates the Oklahoma Marijuana Business license. It’s divided into five categories…

“Section 427.14  A.  There is hereby created the medical marijuana business license, which shall include the following categories:

1.  Medical marijuana commercial grower;

2.  Medical marijuana processor;

3.  Medical marijuana dispensary;

4.  Medical marijuana transporter; and

5.  Medical marijuana testing laboratory.”

Separate fees for each, of course.

HB2674       Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority; transferring the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission; effective date.

No enforcement division, particularly one that polices “alcoholic beverages”, has any business monitoring Oklahoma’s MEDICAL Cannabis. Cannabis is food, not a toxin, like alcoholic beverages.

HB2763      Medical marijuana; authorizing the use of drive through lanes for medical marijuana sales; effective date.

Again, here is a freedom that should not have had to require a law for patients to appreciate its benefit. 
Every day, Walgreen’s doles out very toxic pharmaceuticals…through a drive-thru window.  Coloradoans, have been able to get their liquor that way for years.. and yet they couldn’t see the importance for Cannabis consumers to have a “drive-through”.  Perhaps they do now. Their monthly deluge of Cannabis regulation continues, as it has since the passage of their Cannabis initiatives.

HB2812      Medical marijuana; prohibiting certain currency for medical marijuana business transactions; effective date.

Narrows the currencies used to only “performance bonds or other surety or sureties” between “marijuana businesses”.  I was told this was in reference to Bitcoin use?

SB1033      Medical marijuana; providing certain authorization. Effective date.

“No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his or her status as a medical marijuana license holder, unless failing to do so would cause  the school or landlord the potential to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”

This one is carefully worded so as to pacify the Cannabis masses.  I’ve seen these lines so many times. It’s been copy and pasted into “pot policy” all over the country. It’s SAFE policy. Boasting protection for patients from bigoted landlords. Then reneging by impowering landlords with a vaguely worded escape clause. It would be far more truthful to merely state that this law places the lives of students and renters in the hands of those they trust the least. It’s apparently with the thought, “Who knows…maybe they’ll do the right thing.”

Certainly, schools and landlords have rights too. Lumping them together, however, doesn’t make sense and only muddy’s the water.  Most importantly, Cannabis policy MUST be guided by basic human rights – and NOT bigotry, greed or divisiveness.
Rather than simply dismissing something as critical as one’s education or housing, these issues need to be met separately, properly and decisively.  

SB174      Medical marijuana; providing qualifications for medical laboratory director. Effective date.

“medical laboratory director must possess a bachelor’s degree in the chemical, environmental, biological or physical sciences or engineering, with at least a total of twenty-four (24) college semester credit hours in chemistry or biology and at least two (2) years of experience in the environmental analysis of representative inorganic and organic analytes for which the laboratory will be performing.  A master’s degree or doctoral degree in one of the above disciplines may be substituted for one (1) year of experience.”

I would think REAL experience in medical Cannabis would be paramount. Again, we see the powers that be making important decisions on things that they know precious little about. EVERY lawmaker should have to learn the REAL story of Cannabis, how it stops seizures and shrinks cancerous tumors. They should have to learn the TRUE history of Cannabis and how it once was a vital commercial agricultural crop for our continent.
How could one determine the qualifications for such an important appointment, less their lens was an accurate one?  Perhaps then they would stop approaching Cannabis as if it were toxic waste.
Those who test our Cannabis need to know full well that Cannabis is nontoxic. It is also a “bio-accumulator”. Understanding that is important to understanding what is in it, or what it may absorb. Any problems that may arise are not because of the Cannabis, but rather arise because of toxic materials that have been added to it. The platform from where one begins is very important.

SB442      Firearms; modifying inclusions for medical marijuana card holders. Effective date.

This is a scary one!  The lawmaker who drafted this mess obviously took to heart the misguided premise that, “all things Cannabis should be treated like alcohol”. The fact is, Cannabis is NOTHING like alcohol!  Let’s say it again, “Cannabis is food, not a toxin”. 
What’s more, “reefer madness” propaganda does not constitute a proper understanding of Cannabis therapies.

“…it shall be unlawful for any person to carry or use shotguns, rifles or pistols when under the influence of any drug prescribed by a licensed physician or medical marijuana obtained pursuant to a valid medical marijuana patient license if the current or aftereffects of such consumption affect mental, emotional or physical processes to a degree that would result in abnormal behavior.”

What constitutes “abnormal behavior”? What qualifies law enforcement to determine impairment? I fear many could still lose their Second Amendment right…based purely on an assumption.

SB445      Medical marijuana; designating certain property as smoke-free; specifying method of certain measurement; providing cumulative penalties. Effective date.

“All campuses, buildings and grounds, or portions thereof, owned or operated by an institution within The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education may be designated as tobacco and marijuana free, including smoking or smokeless tobacco or smokable or vaporable marijuana,…”

Though this bill might seem progressive compared to most states with limited medical Cannabis law, denying access based purely on vague “consumption similarities” to tobacco is indicative of fear based in cognitive dissidence.
Cannabis is food and medicine. It cannot adequately be compared to tobacco or alcohol, both being toxic.

SB459      Workplace drug and alcohol procedures; adding certain volunteers; modifying safety-sensitive positions. Effective date.

D.  “A medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee shall not be denied eligibility in public assistance programs including, but not limited to, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or other such public assistance programs based solely on his or her status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee, unless required by federal law.”

This is very important. Understand that many who seek Cannabis therapy rely on these programs to supplement their existence.

As we find in other house bill edits, the author seeks to name Oklahoma’s medical Cannabis program “the Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act”.

The author felt the need to stress his or her belief that Cannabis consumption could be dangerous in “Safety-sensitive” jobs, namely:

a.      “the handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal or transport of hazardous materials,”

b.      “the operation of a motor vehicle, other vehicle, equipment, machinery or power tools,”

c.      “repairing, maintaining or monitoring the performance or operation of any equipment, machinery or manufacturing process, the malfunction or disruption of which could result in injury or property damage,”

d.     “performing firefighting or law enforcement duties,”

e.     “the operation, maintenance or oversight of critical services and infrastructure including, but not limited to, electric, gas, and water utilities, power generation or distribution,”

f.      ” the extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling, packaging, storage, disposal, treatment or transport of potentially volatile, flammable, combustible materials, elements, chemicals or any other highly regulated component,”

g.     “dispensing pharmaceuticals,”

h.     “carrying a firearm, or”

i.            “direct patient care, vulnerable or elderly adult care, disabled or handicapped care or direct child care; and”

One might note that, apart from “dispensing pharmaceuticals” and “direct patient care”, this list pretty well eliminates most blue collar jobs.  To legally adhere to this prohibitionist’s concept of a medical Cannabis patient, the patient would have to resolve his or her life to poverty and total reliance on the state.

SB522      Medical marijuana; requiring Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to contract with third-party vendor to provide certain services. Effective date.

“A third-party vendor shall on behalf of the Authority conduct the statutorily required background checks and verify eligibility and suitability for any license applicant for a medical marijuana patient license, medical marijuana caregiver license, medical marijuana research license, medical marijuana education facility license, any category of medical marijuana business license, and employees of such entities.”

It is apparent that the overly detailed prohibitionist entity that is Oklahoma Cannabis law was created a bit beyond the scope of it’s creators. As with the flurry of Cannabis bills, Oklahoma is in a rush to catch up and solidify their Cannabis program.

SB680      Medical marijuana; requiring testing of medical marijuana waste prior to transfer; requiring separation of waste into waste batches. Effective date.

As with other medical Cannabis law edits that are represented, this author seeks to name the Oklahoma medical Cannabis program as “the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act”.

55.  “’Remediation’ means the process by which the medical marijuana flower or trim, which has failed microbial testing, is processed into solvent-based medical marijuana concentrate and retested as required by this act the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act;”

I would think that if “medical marijuana flower or trim…has failed microbial testing” that it would NOT be fit to be “…processed into solvent-based medical marijuana concentrate”. Obviously the state of Oklahoma’s lawmakers have much lower standards than I.

SB696      Pharmacy; authorizing licensed pharmacist to compound and dispense certain nonsterile preparations; prohibiting certain shipments. Effective date.

“B.  1.  A licensed pharmacist may compound one or more non-sterile preparations consisting only of nonprescription ingredients for over-the-counter use by one or more customers or anticipated customers.  Such preparations shall not require a prescription.”

In other words, this Senate Bill allows Oklahoma pharmacists to basically function like a dispensary. I would think that this would violate their state rules regarding the handling of Schedule I drugs… which pharmacists are not allowed to do without special licensing.

SB814      An Act relating to crime and punishment; amending 63 O.S. 2011, Section 2-402, as last amended by State Question No. 780, Initiative Petition No. 404, Section 3, which relates to prohibited acts and penalties; making certain offenses a felony; prescribing penalties; providing an effective date; and declaring an emergency.

This bill deals specifically with strengthening penalties for the possession and sale of ephedrine, but it doesn’t stop there. The author went on to encompass “any Schedule I or II substance”. In light of the fact that Oklahoma has a medical Cannabis program, this law needed to be altered to protect the state’s Cannabis patients.

“C.  1.  Any person who violates this section with respect to any Schedule I or II substance, except marijuana or a substance included in subsection D of Section 2-206 of this title and has two or more prior convictions for any felony violations of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act or misdemeanor possessions of any Schedule I or II substance, except marijuana or a substance included in subsection D of Section 2-206 of this title, or a combination thereof, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than three (3) years and by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00);”

 Declaring this edit as an emergency insures that it will get immediate attention.

SB862      Medical marijuana; designating certain property as smoke-free; specifying certain method of measurement. Effective date.

Here we see it again. What first seems to be a protection for Cannabis patients proves to be “in word only” by providing a very large loop hole for schools and landlords.

“Section 425.  A.  No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his or her status as a licensed medical marijuana license holder patient, unless failing to do so would cause the school or landlord the potential to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”

Of course, it would not be right to force anyone to have to breath Cannabis smoke, but the fact that it is not carcinogenic is more than enough reason not to lump it together with tobacco – which is. The inclusion of “vaporized marijuana” further proves the ignorance of the one editing this law.

Vaporized Cannabis does not achieve combustion. Consequently, it does not carry the carbon irritation. The vaporized particles are also heavier so they don’t carry as far. Cannabis vaporization has proven to be a safe and effective therapeutic means of Cannabinoid delivery for a wide range of chronic and terminal illnesses.

There is far more change in store for Oklahoma’s Cannabis consumers.

Like the creation of,

  • The “Oklahoma Marijuana Act of 2021”,
  • The “Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act of 2021”,
  • The “Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Testing Act of 2021”,
  • The “Oklahoma Cannabis Use Act of 2021”,
  • The “Oklahoma Cannabis Law of 2021”

    and
  • The “Medical Marijuana Safety Act of 2021”.

I will be touching on these in the near future.

Until next time, please remember,

“Cannabis is nontoxic. Cannabis is food. Cannabis is the single most important medicine of the 21st century.”

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