Oklahoma medical marijuana petition allegedly ignored by state officials

Illinois legalized medical marijuana and announced that July retail sales reached a new high at $2.9 million. AP Photo by Seth Perlman.

by Sara Ritsch
Staff Writer

Read the updated version of this article here.

(Oklahoma City, Okla.) – The Oklahoma Secretary of State is allegedly procrastinating when it comes to counting signatures on petition for State Question 788, the medical marijuana bill.

According to Janine Bradley of Organics OKC, she and the organizers of the nonprofit Oklahomans for Health turned in the petition last Wednesday at 4:20 p.m., but the Sec. of State “didn’t get to it because it was late in the day, and over the next two days that they had it, they said they didn’t have the staff to count it and had to finish other petitions before ours.

“According to a Facebook post by [former] Rep. Joe Dorman, they’re starting to count petition 787 first, which I don’t understand because the first turned in was the medical marijuana petition,” Bradley said. She continued that it seems like the local government is trying to “push it back,” even though they timed it specifically to allow enough time to count the signatures.

“The count should have been done last week. All they have to do is check all signatures to make sure they’re registered voters and look for duplicates.”

Although the petition needed 66,000 signatures, Oklahomans for Health estimates they have received about 77,000. But until they are counted, no one can be sure if the bill will be on ballot this November.

According to Dorman on News 9’s The Hot Seat, SQ 787 is a “petition for protection” of other petitions. It would guarantee petitions like 788 and others will not be repealed for at least two years.

Dorman told The Gayly, "I do not believe [they have started counting. I am on my way to check now. It will probably take a couple of days to count 787, then start 788. They have nine people doing the counting. [I think the] staff is making a good faith effort to make this as quick as possible.”

SQ 788 “would legalize the licensed growth, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” according to Ballotpedia.org.

Both petitions have been endorsed by Dorman, who helped with the wording, and Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D-Okla.). SQ 788 has been developed in close contact with Dr. Sunil Aggarwal and Regina Nelson, along with multiple doctors, lawyers and patients who understand the benefits of medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana can be used to treat Glaucoma, epileptic seizures, Dravet’s Syndrome, cancer, severe anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, arthritis, Lupus, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If passed, SQ 788 would make Oklahoma the first state to remove the “qualifying conditions committee,” which means patients such as veterans and children would have the right to access medical marijuana if a doctor prescribes it.

The office of the Secretary of State was not available for comment at the time of this article. The Gayly will update accordingly.

Article has been updated to include that Dorman is on his way to check if they are counting as of 2:01 p.m. CDT.

Copyright 2016 The Gayly - 8/16/2016 @ 1:40 p.m. CDT