Four medical marijuana groups have given lawmakers a 200-page proposal meant to clarify issues surrounding the recently passed State Question 788.
We see several good ideas in the proposals that seem to line up with our understanding of what the voters wanted when they approved the medical marijuana initiative with nearly 57 percent of the vote.
But one part of the proposed statute gives us pause — a plan to allow podiatrists, chiropractors, dentists and optometrists to sign off on patient applications for medical marijuana licenses.
When the health board looked at the same issue this summer, it restricted licensing to osteopathic and allopathic physicians — DOs and MDs — which matches our sense of what voters thought they were allowing with the initiative.
If you turn to the language in SQ 788, you won’t find much enlightenment. It says all medical marijuana license applications must be signed by “an Oklahoma Board certified physician.”
That’s a confusing mish-mash of terms. Board certification is a national process, not a state one; and some areas of specialization don’t offer certification at all, so even some Oklahoma MDs and DOs aren’t board certified because there are no boards to certify them.
Proponents of allowing chiropractors, podiatrists and all the others in on the process point out that another section of pre-existing state law defines who can and can’t use the term “physician,” and that’s where the list of potential marijuana licensees come from.
But the proposed list creates odd situations. Chiropractors can’t prescribe opioids (or anything else) under state law, but they’d be able to license marijuana. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can prescribe all sorts of medications under varying degrees of physician supervision but wouldn’t be able to license marijuana.
Reading the minds of voters is obviously dicey, subjective stuff, so it seems like the most conservative approach would be the wisest one.
Lawmakers have a confusing situation on their hands, set in motion by an imprecisely worded initiative. We think the health board’s original restriction comes closest to what most voters had in mind and urge the Legislature to stick with it.