Debunking claims from "SQ788 is Not Medical" advertisement

By Jordan Redman
Staff Writer

Recently, the coalition of business, medical, religious and law enforcement organizations opposed to State Question 788 (SQ788) paid $453,000 for advertising to combat the medical cannabis ballot measure, according to independent expenditure reports filed with the Oklahoma State Ethics Commission.

The $443,000 went to an Oklahoma City marketing company for media buys.

The remaining $10,000 was evenly divided between Jones PR, an Oklahoma City political and public relations consulting firm catering to candidates and causes and business groups, and the Student Development Institute, a nonprofit operated by Paul Abner, an evangelist who also heads a group of religious leaders opposed to SQ788, according to the Tulsa World. (link is external)

On June 18, Mary Fallin issued a statement SQ788, “The governor said today she intends to call a special session if voters approve State Question 788 to address the practical implementation of the proposal. The governor is concerned that the state would not be able to have a system established in 30 days after passage as called for in SQ 788. The governor still plans to talk with Senate and House leadership about a possible special session.”

Let's break down the claims made in the commercial:

CLAIM: "If it were medical, then why could anyone get it without a specific medical condition?"

According to a fact sheet provided by Oklahomans For Health, "In Oklahoma, SQ788 would regulate our medical program around a physicians opinion rather than a list of medical conditions."

Reasons listed for not restricting medical cannabis to a list of approved medical conditions: 

  • Puts regulation in the hands of physicians just like prescription drugs.
  • Does not limit future research and new conditions.
  • Forces physicians to be educated about medical cannabis and the endocannabinoid system.

"At the core it is to help patients. Patients have put this on the ballot and patients are ready to have access to this important and broad medication."

Let's break down what the ballot says:

“A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician.

“The State Department of Health will issue medical marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen years or older and an Oklahoma resident. A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen. However, these applications must be signed by two physicians and a parent or legal guardian.”

That is not a free-for-all for medical professionals to prescribe medical cannabis.

Yes on 788 released the following statement, "SQ788 states that physicians can only recommend marijuana according to the 'accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.' It is not within the 'accepted standards' of a veterinarian to recommend a medicine to a human. Likewise, Chiropractors are legally 'drugless practitioners,' hence recommending medicine is not within their purview."

CLAIM: "Do we really want our college freshman growing up to 12 pounds of weed every year in their dorm room?"

Several states where marijuana is legal in some form, including California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine have all addressed the college campus issue.

"Just because marijuana is legal statewide does not mean it’s OK to use on campus," explained USA Today. (link is external)

Take University of Massachusetts-Amherst, for example. Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for the university, told USA TODAY College that "marijuana is still not permitted on campus, as it remains illegal on the federal level and is still a violation of the student code, much like alcohol."

According to the University of Oklahoma's Student Conduct Policies adopted in 2011 "All campus affiliated student organizations and all students who are currently enrolled at the University of Oklahoma or are pre-enrolled for subsequent semesters and have attended the institution for at least one semester in the current or past academic year are responsible for following federal, state and local laws, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Code, and the Student Alcohol Policy."

Emphasis on the section concerning students following "federal, state and local laws."

Despite what happens regarding medical cannabis in the state of Oklahoma on June 26, marijuana will still be illegal on the federal level, meaning growing cannabis in an University of Oklahoma dorm room would violate student conduct.

According to the Oklahoma State University's Student Conduct Handbook, "Acting or intending to act to illegally use, possess, sell, share, distribute, cultivate, manufacture or be under the influence of any state or federally controlled drug or substance. Possessing drug paraphernalia. Inhaling or ingesting any substances (e.g., nitrous oxide, glue, paint, etc.) that will alter a student’s mental state. Knowingly providing a location for individuals to possess or consume drugs, or knowingly being in the presence of drugs are also prohibited."

Again, cannabis would still fall under the umbrella of a "federally controlled drug or substance," if SQ788 passes.

According The University of Tulsa's Student Handbook & Policies, "The University of Tulsa, through compliance with the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1990 (link is external), forbids the use of illegal drugs and controlled substances. This policy covers all full-time, part-time, regular, or temporary students and employees. The policy governs use and possession of alcoholic beverages of any kind and, therefore, is subject to disciplinary action up to and including immediate dismissal."

In Section 2A, "Possession and/or distribution of marijuana" is listed as a prohibited activity.

CLAIM: "Do we really want anyone to have the right to light up next to us in public places?"

There is nothing in SQ788 that allows for or protects public smoking. It is within the rights of private businesses, municipalities, counties, and the state to ban public medical marijuana usage on their premises or within their jurisdiction, according to Yes on 788. (link is external)

The Oklahoma Smoking in Public Places Act (link is external) defines smoking as "carrying by a person of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other lighted smoking device". According to Section 1-1523.A "Except as specifically provided in the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act, no person shall smoke in a public place."

The Oklahoma Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act states smoking is not permitted in schools and on school grounds. Smoking is not permitted in daycare and childcare centers during hours of operation or in health facilities (except for designated rooms in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities) (OK Stat. Tit. 21 Sec. 1247).

Video recorded by Norma Sapp; commercial by SQ788 Is Not Medical.

Copyright The Gayly. June 19, 2018. 2:55 p.m. CST.