- Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A former Democratic state legislator who ran for governor in 2014 is spearheading an effort launched Monday to let voters decide whether to allow medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

Former state Rep. Joe Dorman is a board member of the group Oklahomans for Health, which filed an initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office to begin gathering signatures to place the proposal on the ballot in November.

After a review of the petition is complete, the group will have 90 days to gather about 66,000 signatures from registered voters to get the proposal on the ballot.

Dorman said he was motivated in part by his experience working with cancer patients who benefited from using marijuana, but were unable to do so legally.

“I want to encourage people to keep an open mind about this proposal,” said Dorman, a Democrat from Rush Springs who ran against Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014. “I certainly trust doctors and health care providers to offer the proper medication for treatment over bureaucrats and politicians.”

In 2014, the same group fell short gathering the 155,000 signatures needed to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to allow for medicinal marijuana, but this time is seeking a statutory change that will require fewer signatures.

“That will make a big difference,” Dorman said. “I feel confident we’re going to see success with this.”

The effort is likely to face resistance from some law enforcement agencies that view medicinal marijuana as a way to allow more access to pot by recreational users.

Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, said his agency supports the use of non-intoxicating cannabis oils to treat certain conditions but believes full-blown medicinal marijuana sends the wrong signal to children who are encouraged not to use illegal drugs.

“It’s a concern for our youth, because they’re being told getting high on drugs is now medicine,” Woodward said. “It opens up greater accessibility to people having it in the home, which could increase access to kids.”

If approved by the voters, doctors would be able to recommend a patient at least 25 years old for a state-issued medical marijuana license that would allow them to use marijuana legally and possess up to 3 ounces, six mature plants and six seedlings. The Oklahoma State Department of Health would be responsible for overseeing the licensing of marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and patients.

The state tax on marijuana would be 7 percent, with revenues used to fund the regulation of the industry. Additional revenues would be divided with 75 percent going to the state’s general revenue fund to pay for general operations and 25 percent earmarked for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.



State Question 788: https://bit.ly/1TNwpXC


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