[UPDATE: The president of the state Board of Health has announced that the group will call a special meeting “as soon as possible” to consider the Attorney General’s recommendations.]
Oklahoma’s Attorney General warns that members of the state Board of Health “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788 – the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis access law.
In a letter issued on Wednesday to the Interim Commissioner of Health, Attorney General Mike Hunter states that the Board “overstepped its authority” by imposing new rules prohibiting the sale of herbal forms of cannabis, and mandating on-site pharmacists at licensed dispensaries.
“This is a wise move by the Attorney General, both from a policy and a political standpoint,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “When the will of the people is to ensure that patients have the ability to have access to physician-recommended therapeutic treatments, the will of the people deserves to be honored. Absent a majority vote of the legislature, the decision of the voters in this matter ought to remain sacrosanct.”
To date, two separate lawsuits have been filed against the state health department in response to the new rules, which Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law last week.
“I have no doubt that the board in good faith sought to regulate marijuana in a manner it believed would best promote the health and safety of Oklahomans,” the AG said. “However, in so doing, the board made policy judgments not authorized by statute. Such policy decisions are the exclusive prerogative of the legislature and the people. … [T]he people of the state have spoken and I have a legal duty to honor the decision made by the electorate.”
He concluded, “It is therefore my judgement that the Board reconvene to reconsider the rules … in a manner consistent with the advice of this letter.”
Reform advocates in the state claim to be just several thousand signatures shy of those necessary to place a broader adult use initiative on the November ballot. However, Oklahoma’s Secretary of State has claimed that a vote on the issue will likely be delayed until 2020 even if activists meet the signature requirements.