Oklahoma Health Department Asks Judge to Allow Regulation of New Medical Marijuana Program

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Health Department has warned a judge that the public will be harmed if the state can’t implement key rules on medical cannabis.

The agency on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, listed eight potential dangers to the public if the new rules aren’t enforced. Dangers include selling contaminated food and drug products.

The warning came in response to an Aug. 7, 2018, legal petition asking for an emergency injunction on more than 20 medical marijuana rules signed by Gov. Mary Fallin a day earlier.

The Board of Health adopted new guidelines Aug. 1, 2018, after rules hastily adopted in July 2018 came under harsh criticism from Attorney General Mike Hunter and medical cannabis advocates who said the board overstepped its authority.

But petitioners said the new rules are still restrictive and that the board is still exceeding its authority.

“The Department of Health’s attempt to rectify the mess created by the July 10 amended rules has resulted in an even bigger regulatory dumpster fire than its predecessor,” said Rachel Bussett, an attorney for the eight petitioners, who are prospective medical cannabis patients or business operators.

Bussett argued that the Health Department “has potentially made any outdoor commercial cultivation an impossibility” because growers would have to adhere to restaurant-level hygiene and cleanliness standards.

Hunter’s office, speaking on behalf of the Health Department, argued the regulation’s intended purpose is to remind those involved of existing obligations to public health.

Hunter’s office said a temporary injunction would maintain the status quo “that nobody is currently able to legally grow, process, sell or use marijuana.”

Oklahoma voters on June 26, 2018, approved State Question 788, a ballot measure that legalized medical cannabis in the state. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is scheduled to begin receiving and processing license applications Aug. 25, 2018.

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