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Effort to amend Oklahoma marijuana rules began before vote

September 27, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Public records show that efforts were in place to amend Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law weeks before residents even voted on the issue.

The Oklahoman in a records request obtained emails indicating health groups pushed for two amendments to the law before the June vote. The groups were seeking to ban the sale of smokable forms of marijuana and require that dispensaries hire pharmacists.

The public wasn’t made aware of the potential changes until a coalition of health professional groups held a news conference July 9. The state Board of Health approved the amendments the next day. Gov. Mary Fallin then signed the emergency rules.

The Oklahoma Health Department was charged with helping shape the state’s medical marijuana framework after Fallin declined to call a special legislative session.

The quick action led to questions about the board’s process, since the draft regulations posted online ahead of the board meeting did not include the amendments.

Lawmakers from both parties criticized the board for overreaching and the attorney general said the board likely exceeded its authority. The health board’s rules were eventually rescinded after the fallout.

Fallin’s chief of staff Chris Benge and Secretary of State Jim Williamson issued a joint statement about the issue. They said they discussed “generally possible rules” that would prioritize health and safety.

“The state question placed an accelerated implementation period upon the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Because of this, the governor’s office was interested in helping the department successfully adopt the rules as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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