2018 Election: Oklahoma Legalizes Medical Marijuana

But prospect of a vote on recreational marijuana unexpectedly fades

In a June 26 referendum, Oklahomans approved Question 788, which legalizes the medical use of marijuana, 57 percent to 43 percent. This expansive measure enables doctors to license the use of marijuana for any medical condition, and allows people to possess and grow larger amounts of marijuana than do many other states with similar statutes.

Advocates were hoping to carry this momentum further, and Oklahoma’s Green the Vote group looked well on its way to collecting enough signatures to place an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana on the ballot. But just days before the Aug. 8 deadline, the group’s leaders revealed that they had deliberately—and significantly—inflated the number of signatures they had gathered in an effort to build momentum. The group submitted its signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on Aug. 8, but the prospect of a vote on recreational marijuana has dimmed.

And debates are continuing over medical marijuana. Shortly after the June vote, the state’s health board adopted emergency regulations that restricted the measure. These regulations, which Governor Mary Fallin signed into law, banned the sale of smokable marijuana and added a requirement that dispensaries employ a licensed pharmacist. But this provoked widespread complaints that the board lacked the authority to pass regulations modifying the content of Question 788, and state officials soon changed course. In early August, the health board and Fallin rescinded their earlier rules, lifting the ban on smokable marijuana and the pharmacist requirement. Tulsa World’s Samantha Vicent recently reported on other outstanding issues that the Oklahoma legislature may have to tackle in its next session. But until then medical marijuana is ready to go: Question 788’s implementation begins later this month.