OKLAHOMA CITY — The head of a medical marijuana trade organization on Thursday renewed his call for a special session to develop a regulatory framework to implement it.
Before voters on June 26 approved State Question 788 to legalize medical marijuana, Gov. Mary Fallin had said she would call a special session should State Question 788 pass, but she decided against it.
Critics said the state question was so poorly worded that it essentially would legalize recreational marijuana. As written, the measure does not have qualifying medical conditions but requires approval from a doctor.
Bud Scott, New Health Solutions Oklahoma executive director, said the wording in the state question was an outline in anticipation that lawmakers would create the regulatory framework.
Without legislative action, legal wrangling and delays will occur, affecting patients, he said. The measure, he noted, needs clarity.
“The Oklahoma State Department of Health does not have the capability or the legal authority to make all of these important decisions by itself,” Scott said. “Our lawmakers must show some leadership, do their jobs and legislate. They can’t hide from this issue.”
Fallin’s office cited the small time frame as a reason not to have a special session. The measure will become law on July 26, and the Health Department will begin receiving applications Aug. 25 for licenses for patients, caregivers, growers, processors, transporters and dispensaries.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is working on the regulatory framework.
“Nothing has changed,” said Michael McNutt, spokesman for Fallin’s office. “The governor’s office believes that asking the Legislature to pass comprehensive legislation in a special session is not realistic. Emergency rules are the most promising path to success at this time. The repeated calls for a difficult and costly special session are premature.”
Scott said one item that needs to be addressed is an inventory tracking system to prevent black market proliferation. Two bills dealing with regulation failed to make it through the legislative process last session.
Chip Paul, co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, which successfully obtained the required signatures to get the measure on the ballot, said calling a special session is “a horrible idea” and said the implementation process is working as envisioned.