MEDICAL MARIJUANA RALLY

Julian Kerr of Oklahoma City holds a marijuana flag during March the Capitol 2020 at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. The rally was to protest many of the bills filed in the legislative session that would affect medical marijuana patients and businesses. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman

Dozens of bills are pending before the Legislature this year to increase restrictions on the production and consumption of medical cannabis.

Everything from the proximity of dispensaries to churches to billboard advertising is being debated.

Last week, medical marijuana supporters showed up at the Capitol to protest any effort to whittle away at their right to buy, sell and make cannabis.

They have a very good point.

Oklahoma voters approved the state’s medical marijuana law — State Question 788 — by a strong 57% vote in 2018.

Passage by the people doesn’t make the law untouchable, but it certainly should give lawmakers pause before they dig into it too deeply.

With the state question on the books only two years, we’d say that any changes that undermine the voters’ intent — that medical marijuana be legal, taxed, regulated and available throughout the state on a broadly permissive, licensed basis — are undemocratic and wrong.

Any such effort would violate the spirit of the first words of the Oklahoma Bill of Rights: “All political power is inherent in the people; and government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and to promote their general welfare; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it....”

Last year’s so-called “Unity Bill,” which fixed known problems in SQ 788 and was constructed with the advice and support of key medical marijuana advocates, met that standard. Other changes along those lines may remain legitimate.

But anything aimed at reducing the power of SQ 788, anything that would significantly restrict the legal use of medical marijuana in the state, has a fundamental problem, they are in clear opposition of the expressed will of the voting people of Oklahoma.

Legislators need to be very careful about how they use their right to alter statutes put in place by the voters. The issue here is greater than who get to use marijuana, where and for what purpose.


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