Thursday, March 09, 2023

In wake of recreational defeat, senators call for guardrails on medical marijuana program

Sen. Garvin calls for more guardrails on medical marijuana program after recreational defeat

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 8th) - On the heels of Oklahomans’ overwhelming defeat of State Question 820 that would have legalized recreational marijuana, Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, Wednesday said the result of the recent election shows the state’s medical program needs reformed.

With more than 61% of voters rejecting the state question, not a single county voted in favor of the measure. Opposition to the question included industry leaders, educators, law enforcement officials and community leaders.

Garvin said while she is happy the measure failed, more needs to be done to reform the current medical program.

“Oklahoma is a better place for this state question failing,” said Garvin. “I think the overwhelming results are also a clear sign that Oklahomans are not happy with the current medical marijuana program and want it to be reformed. That is why this session, I have introduced a number of bills that will close loopholes in illegal activity, further protect children and make the program a true medical marijuana program, not recreational marijuana lite, which is what it is now.”

Garvin’s proposed legislation came from Senate members working over the past nine months with cannabis industry professionals to better understand the issues, problems and concerns they have and discuss how lawmakers can make it better.

“Oklahomans made the right decision last night by vehemently voting this measure down,” said Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who serves as the Senate Majority Floor Leader. “The medical marijuana industry is here to stay. That is one reason why Senate leadership has heavily relied on Senator Garvin to invest the necessary time to understand the industry better, both the pros and cons. She has worked with other members to present a series of bills to substantially improve patient safety and close many loopholes we have found in our current agency rules and state regulations. I am proud to support her work as session continues.”

Senators have filed several measures to help eliminate the vast array of illegal activity and negative outcomes that have flooded the state over the past five years. The Senate’s robust plan includes bills that will better protect the public, such as limiting marijuana access to minors. Other bills include requirements for physicians who recommend medical marijuana products to complete a thorough initial training and annual continuing education. Additionally, Senate Bill 806 closes loopholes to prevent illegal land ownership.

“Having worked in the medical field for my entire professional life, I have seen patients who have benefited from the CBD and THC found in cannabis. That said, the people of Oklahoma have spoken and it’s time for the Legislature to step up and take action based on Tuesday's vote,” said Garvin. “We're beginning to see data supporting the medical benefits and we need to ensure patients who are thriving, such as our veterans and cancer patients, continue to have the best quality of life possible. However, Oklahomans are frustrated with the negative activities, including human trafficking, loss of life, strain on our already brittle infrastructure, and increasing burdens on our judicial and mental health systems. Reform begins with looking at data supporting both sides of the argument and having meaningful conversations about public policy that uphold what voters supported in 2018 when they passed SQ788, but also striving to eliminate the unintended consequences it created. I'm hopeful we can get some, if not all, of these measures across the finish line and onto the governor’s desk this session.”


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