A majority of Oklahomans voted to enact State Question 788 — a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to those patients who they believe will benefit from it. Oklahoma is now the 31st state to legalize and regulate the use of medical cannabis under state law, and the fourteenth to do so by a direct vote of the people.
Fifty-seven percent of Oklahoma voters endorsed the plan despite organized opposition from law enforcement, political leaders like Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and Sen. Jim Lankford (R-Okla.), and other religious and civic groups.
Opponents of the measure grossly outspent SQ 788’s proponents. Specifically, organized opposition spent an estimated $500,000 in the final week of the campaign on an advertising blitz that falsely claimed that “SQ 788 was not about medical marijuana,” a mischaracterization that was previously determined to be purposely misleading as by the state Supreme Court. Nonetheless, voters remained largely unswayed, as public support held firm throughout the final months of the campaign.
The proposed law brings potentially sweeping changes to the Sooner state. Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison.
Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this month, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States.
The question moving forward is: Will Oklahoma politicians let the will of the voters stand? Already, the Governor has given indications of her intention to call for a special session to amend the new law. But she and her elected colleagues should be taking just the opposite approach.
They should respect the decision