The week ending Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, was a busy one for marijuana reform. Oklahoma walked back some draconian medical marijuana policy, but will it stick? Yet another study finds that legalized marijuana doesn’t increase youth’s cannabis use. And a congressman finally throws a bone to federal employees who use medical marijuana.
Here’s a closer look at the headlines for the week.
Governor’s Reprieve is Not a Sign that Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana is OK
Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a revised set of emergency rules for Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. Under the new emergency rules signed on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, several of the controversial rules approved by the Oklahoma State Department Of Health (OSDH) in late July 2018 were eliminated.
Fallin called the new rules “very basic” in a press release. Fallin also stated that the regulations were “the best option in developing a popular regulatory framework.” The new emergency rules effectively revokes some of the restrictive rules that Fallin initially backed in early July 2018, including:
- A ban on smokable marijuana
- A mandate requiring all dispensaries to have a pharmacist onsite
- A THC-limit on state-sanctioned marijuana
- Women “of childbearing years” be subjected to a pregnancy test as a prerequisite for a medical marijuana license
Good news, right? Unfortunately, not so much.
The following Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that a special legislative session is needed to fix the state’s revised medical marijuana rules before the regular legislative session in February 2019.
This is hardly democracy. Oklahoma’s voters cast their ballot for State Question 788 in order to have ease of access to medical marijuana.
And Oklahomans are tired of prohibition — 56.86 percent of the state’s voters cast their ballots in support of being allowed to legally consume smokable marijuana, possess up to 3 ounces, or 85 grams, of cannabis, cultivate six mature plants and six seedlings, and maintain no more than 8 ounces, or 226.8 g, of dried marijuana in their homes. But the voters are again being outflanked by political forces within the OSDH under the guise of knowing what’s best for the public. While the state’s new emergency regulations have pacified the voters for now, chances are that will change dramatically after the November 2018 election.
Study Finds Proximity of Dispensaries Inconsequential to Teen Use
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and gee, fewer kids overall are using marijuana, according to a report in Marijuana Moment. But while prohibitionists have continually insisted that recreational and medical marijuana reach school-age children, a new study shows otherwise.
A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego Department of Family Medicine and Public Health analyzed the data of 46,000 students from 117 randomly selected schools in California and concluded: “There was no evidence supporting the association of medical marijuana availability, price, or product variety around schools with adolescents’ marijuana use and susceptibility to use.”
Prohibitionists will assert otherwise, but as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog reports, studies have consistently found that teen marijuana use decreases in legalized states.
At this point, prohibitions need to find a new argument for keeping marijuana use illegal. Each time prohibitions cry that regulated adult access encourages teen marijuana use, they are pushing propaganda.
Florida Congress Member Wants Protection for Federal Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana
Florida Democratic US Rep. Charlie Crist seems to understand that drug testing policies for federal employees are antiquated and a real problem for government workers who medicate with cannabis. Crist introduced legislation on July 26, 2018 to ensure federal employees’ and veterans’ employment opportunities are protected.
“Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion, and in the veterans’ community, access is even more important as more and more veterans are turning to cannabis to address chronic pain and PTSD,” Crist wrote in a press release. “Our bipartisan bill would protect federal employment for those in compliance with their state’s cannabis laws. Because our veterans shouldn’t have to choose between treatment options or job opportunities.”
Co-sponsored by Georgia Republican US Rep. Drew Ferguson, the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, was introduced as a means of protecting all federal workers, of which “one third” are veterans.
“We appreciate your bipartisan leadership on this issue because it is so essential. Self-care and gainful employment are critical components of lifelong success for not just veterans but all Americans,” wrote Veterans Cannabis Coalition co-founders Eric Goepel and Bill Ferguson in a letter of support.
Allowing for responsible cannabis use by adults is a commonsense issue. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or opioid-based medication. Today’s medical marijuana patients should be permitted the same liberty and opportunities as those who drink off-hours, or take prescription medication to maintain a façade of normalcy and decorum.