A contingent of medical associations has come out against an Oklahoma ballot initiative that would legalize medical marijuana, saying State Question 788 is full of loopholes and would exacerbate drug abuse in the state.
But the voices of individual doctors have been more muted. Many prefer their medical association or other groups to make the arguments for or against the proposal, which will be decided in Tuesday’s primary election. Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude and may be more vocal should the question pass.
Oklahoma Watch talked to two doctors with differing viewpoints on legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
Dr. Art Rousseau is an Oklahoma City psychiatrist who believes Oklahoma’s proposal could endanger patient safety and open doctors up to professional and legal problems.
Dr. Barry Gordon is a former emergency-room physician from Ohio who is now chief medical officer at a medical marijuana clinic in Florida; he believes patient education is key to the success of medical marijuana and patients should be given all options for treatment.
Florida law vs. SQ 788
There are differences between Florida’s marijuana law and Oklahoma’s initiative.
Florida lawmakers first passed medical marijuana in 2014 for the terminally ill. Voters expanded that under a constitutional amendment in 2016 to include more than a dozen medical conditions. The smokable form of marijuana is not allowed, nor can patients grow their own. Patients can get medical marijuana in pill form, sublingual tincture oils, sprays or vaporization products. A circuit court recently ruled Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana was unconstitutional, although that decision is being appealed. Almost 124,000 Floridians are on the medical marijuana use registry.
Oklahoma’s SQ 788 does not limit medical marijuana to