Bid to amend OK medical cannabis rules began before residents voted on initiative

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Records show that attempts to amend Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law with rules that would have hampered the state’s MMJ market began weeks before residents even voted on the issue.

The amendments – which were ultimately reversed by the Oklahoma Board of Health in August – would have banned smokable forms of marijuana and required dispensaries to hire pharmacists.

The Oklahoman obtained emails through a public-records request that show various groups – including the state mental health department, the Board of Pharmacy and the Bureau of Narcotics – pushed for the two amendments to the law before voters went to the polls in June.

Here’s a timeline of how the amendments came to light:

  • The public wasn’t made aware of the potential amendments until a coalition of health professional groups held a news conference July 9.
  • The state Board of Health then approved the amendments July 10.
  • The quick action led to questions about the board’s process, and the health board’s rules were rescinded Aug. 1 after Attorney General Mike Hunter said they had overreached by adopting much more restrictive measures than those in the initiative approved by voters.
  • The latest rules – permitting the sales of smokable marijuana, removing the requirement for dispensaries to have licensed pharmacists, and lifting restrictions on THC levels – were upheld by a judge Aug. 22.

The more business-friendly regulations appear to be attractive to potential business owners.

Regulators already have approved more than 1,100 business licenses, and roughly 500 additional applications are in the pipeline, according to state officials.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily