Medical marijuana patients may be precluded from owning guns

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OKLAHOMA CITY – At a meeting today of the Oklahoma Legislature’s Medical Marijuana Working Group, Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Interim Commissioner Tom Bates expressed concerns that a lack of legislative action could open the door to an unstable and potentially dangerous “buyer beware environment” in the medical cannabis marketplace.

"A lack of rules or standard educational materials for patients could mean very little quality control for products," Bates said, "which could represent a hazard." When asked whether immediate action needed to be taken from the Legislature, Bates responded “The only way to ensure there isn’t a gap of time where these (issues) could get away from us is to have a special session.”

The public health “gaps” are exacerbated by the significant scale of the state’s new medical cannabis program; Bates said OSDH expects 80,000 applications for commercial or individual use of the product.

The medical cannabis business community says Bates’ concerns are valid and has asked the Legislature to empower OSDH with the regulatory tools it needs to provide for an orderly and safe marketplace. New Health Solutions Oklahoma (NHSO) represents the state’s medical cannabis businesses and investors; its members have continued to call for the Legislature to come back to the Capitol and address the issue in a special session.

“Imagine a world where automobiles were introduced overnight and became common modes of transportation,” said NHSO Executive Director Bud Scott. “Now imagine there were no paved roads, stoplights, speed limits, or mandated safety features. That is the world we are living in with medical cannabis.

“It is certainly not an acceptable world for medical cannabis patients, who won’t know if what they are buying is safe or has even been legally grown,” Scott continued. “It’s also extremely unfavorable to cannabis businesses who want to exist in a fair and safely regulated system, who will instead have to exist in a lawless marketplace ripe with black-market production and sales. The only responsible course for our lawmakers is to do their jobs and write the laws that voters asked for.” 

Gun owners also at risk:

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation recently stated that it will enforce a federal prohibition on the ownership of firearms and ammunition, meaning that medical marijuana patients may be precluded from owning guns. The announcement has met with resistance from the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association.

Scott said the medical cannabis community stands with gun-owners, and that Constitutionally protected rights cannot be stripped from Oklahomans simply because they are seeking medical treatment.

“It is outrageous to say that a cancer patient trying to manage his or her symptoms with medical cannabis can be denied their right to self-defense, just as it would be outrageous to say the government can infringe on his or her rights to free speech or due process,” said Scott. “This is just one more issue that has landed in the lap of the Legislature. It could be easily fixed if lawmakers would convene and pursue responsible and fairly simple legislative fixes.”

New Health Solutions Oklahoma has released model legislation for lawmakers to consider, after weeks of public input. It can be downloaded here.

Copyright The Gayly 8/8/2018 @ 5:24 p.m. CST.