Russell Moore says he wouldn’t be overly disappointed if a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana did not make the 2018 general election ballot. He’d prefer that it be on the ballot in 2020.
That way, Moore said, Oklahomans could see that legalizing marijuana is not going to harm the state.
Moore, who is a proponent for medical marijuana and helped lead the charge to get State Question 788 approved in June, spoke Monday to Canadian County Democrats.
Moore said a state panel is currently working through the process of creating regulations for SQ 788, the medical marijuana law.
Beginning Aug. 25, residents seeking a medical marijuana permit will be able to apply online. The licenses will be issued about 14 days after the application is filed, he said.
However, there are still ongoing discussions about how the marijuana can be used, whether it can be smoked, inhaled or eaten.
Moore said for some people, the only possible method is through smoking it.
He said a health department panel also is reviewing the THC limits on the marijuana. Currently, it is set at 12 percent. However, some people may need much stronger THC dosage to reduce pain associated with their illnesses.
Food standards also are being established so that items such as gummies, brownies and other edibles can be created.
And while possessing marijuana with a medical permit will be legal, some of the items used to smoke it currently remain illegal, Moore said.
He said that advocates are working with local law enforcement to ensure that people with permits are not arrested for possessing things like rolling papers or pipes that are used to inhale the drug.
Moore did say that people who are stopped and have marijuana on them, but don’t have a permit could face fines of up to $400. It could also prohibit them from getting a permit in the future.
The licensing application asks if the person has any type of drug convictions.
He said a marijuana possession charge could keep them from getting a medical permit for up to two years.
Meanwhile, two other petitions related to marijuana remain in limbo.
The petition for State Question 796, which is a companion petition to the medical marijuana law, has been turned in to the secretary of state. It would allow marijuana to be regulated as an herbal medication.
Moore said he expects that measure to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot with sufficient signatures on petition.
However, the petition for State Question 797, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, is unlikely to make the general election ballot on Nov. 6.
He said the petition is likely to come up short on signatures after organizers provided false information about the number of signatures they had received.
Moore also said it might be better for that issue to appear on the 2020 ballot so that Oklahomans have more time to learn about the issue.
Moore also questioned a proposal by the city of Yukon as well as other cities to regulate where medical marijuana dispensaries could locate.
Moore said the state set the only exception to the location of dispensaries, which is 1,000 feet from a school.
Yukon officials, last week, began looking at restricting its zoning so that dispensaries could not be located within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, churches, residential areas and another dispensary.
Moore said he doesn’t believe the cities have that authority.
Yukon City Attorney Gary Miller, when asked at the city council work session last week, said the city has the right to regulate marijuana just as it would alcohol.
He also pointed out that Yukon can make laws that are more strict than state laws, but can’t make them more lenient.
The proposed ordinance would be significantly more strict, relegating dispensaries to only one area in Yukon, which is south of Interstate 40.
Yukon’s city council could look further at the proposed law as soon as next week during its second regular meeting of the month.