Image via Ervin Yen
Oklahoma is just four months away from voting on what could be the country’s most progressive medical cannabis legislation, without any “qualifying conditions” or steep barriers to access. But before local residents can take to the polls this summer, one conservative state legislator is trying his hardest to quash the open access plan, introducing legislation to add traditional restrictions to the proposed program.
Officially filed in September of 2016, Oklahoma’s State Question 788 (SQ788) would legalize cannabis for medical purposes, and feature a first-of-its-kind focus on physician care, giving all Oklahoma doctors the ability to recommend medical marijuana for any condition instead of only particular ones chosen by lawmakers. While some states require patients be suffering from cancer, AIDS, or another life threatening disease to legally access medical cannabis, SQ788 would simply require a doctor’s signature and nothing more.
But while Sooner State cannabis activists try their hardest to organize enough support for June’s primary election vote, Oklahoma State Senator Ervin Yen has introduced a piece of legislation to essentially sabotage the most progressive parts of SQ788. Sen. Yen’s bill, SB1120, would ban recommending medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, PTSD, depression, and more. Instead, Oklahoma’s not-yet-passed medical marijuana program would be open only to patients suffering from severely life-threatening ailments.
"It's a little too open-ended,” Yen told local public radio station KOSU. “We need to limit the reasons that you can prescribe medical marijuana, I think."
Unlike SQ788, which will pass or fail by the will Oklahoma residents, SB1120 will be decided by state legislators.
Still, with mere months until Oklahoma residents make their voices heard at the ballot box, Sen. Yen has not yet officially introduced SB1120 and has not announced any support in the legislature besides his own.
Sen. Yen’s bill will make its legislative debut on February 5th, while Oklahomans will vote in the state’s 2018 primary election, including SQ788, on June 26th.