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Oklahoma health department revised medical marijuana rules

July 27, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials released new proposed medical marijuana rules on Friday that remove some of the most criticized provisions, including a ban on the sale of smokable pot and a requirement that female patients get a pregnancy test.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health posted the new rules on its website, and the agency’s board is expected to consider them at a special meeting on Wednesday.

The original rules approved by the board earlier this month prompted outrage from medical marijuana supporters who said they were far too restrictive. Two separate groups sued the board, and Attorney General Mike Hunter said the board overstepped its authority and recommended they make several changes.

The restrictions that most troubled medical marijuana supporters were a ban on the sale of smokable marijuana and a requirement for a pharmacist in every dispensary. Both of those rules were adopted unexpectedly at an emergency meeting and approved by the board despite a warning by its own attorney advising against it. Gov. Mary Fallin signed them into law the next day.

Other rule changes that raised concern were limits on levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in products and plants, and a requirement that female patients “of childbearing age” undergo a pregnancy test. Both of those rules are recommended for elimination.

Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, said she’s not aware of any other state with such a pregnancy requirement.

“It’s shockingly patronizing and invasive, and would drive up costs for females,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe and several Oklahoma medical marijuana advocates say the proposed new rules are an improvement, but that there are still several problematic provisions. O’Keefe said the new rules still require physicians to “ascertain” if a woman is pregnant, which she said could lead to a requirement that women be tested.

Chip Paul, who helped write the state question approved by 57 percent of Oklahoma voters last month, said he’s pleased with most of the changes, but that provisions related to laboratory testing of marijuana products are too restrictive.

Oklahoma State Department of Health spokesman Tony Sellars said the rules still may be amended by the board.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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This story has been corrected to show the Marijuana Policy Project is based in Washington, D.C.

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