The saga of Oklahoma’s referendum legalizing medical marijuana continues. . . .The measure requires users and sellers to get a license, but there are hardly any other restrictions. This suggests that the real purpose of the initiative was to legalize recreational use, though requiring a license to do so. Critics complained that the referendum was too vague, but supporters said the state could work out the regulation later.
And now it has done so. The state Health Department, which was given authority to establish regulations and to administer the licensing, is requiring that medical marijuana only be administered as medicine. That means, no smoking. The sale of leaves, buds, and other smokable parts of the plant will still be forbidden.
Nor may the drug be sold in candy–such as gummi bears or chocolate–since that would attract children.
Also, the drug may only be sold by a licensed pharmacist.
But where’s the fun in that? Rolling a joint, along with passing it around (presumably to other license holders) is part of the marijuana mystique, as is cooking it up in brownies! Requiring a pharmacist also shoots down the plans of dealers to legalize their operations and who have already been buying up space in strip malls for their dispensaries!
And yet, if marijuana is to be used as medicine, what’s wrong with these restrictions? Smoking is bad for you, whether it’s tobacco, marijuana, or any other weed. If it is prescribed to treat diseases, the doses and potency need to be carefully controlled. And surely it’s important to keep this, as with all other prescription medication, out of the hands of children, isn’t it? So there is no medical reason to put it in candy, and plenty of safety reasons not to. Just take a dose of the active ingredients in a pill, carefully measured so as to minimize side-effects, such as getting high.
So who could possibly object? But the promoters of the referendum and its supporters are objecting strenuously, offering far-fetched arguments why these regulations are not a good idea. Patients have the right to choose how they take their medicine! Inhalation is a valid delivery system! This violates the intent of the bill! That last point is certainly true.
Initially, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin had said she would call a special session of the state legislature to work out the details if the referendum passed. But the legislature did not really want to deal with it, so state government punted the task to the bureaucracy, following the pattern of the national government.
Now there are calls from the referendum initiators and from among the 58% of voters who approved it for the legislature to take up the task after all. Some legislators are invoking the will of the people to smoke and to eat their dope. I predict that the lawmakers, virtually all of whom are socially-conservative Republicans, will vote accordingly.
Meanwhile, another petition has started up for a referendum to drop the pretenses and just legalize the recreational use of the drug.
Also, read this article on the over-hyped and scientifically invalid claims that are being made for marijuana’s medicinal value.
Illustration: Sign for a California medical marijuana dispensary, by Original uncropped image from Laurie Avocado (Cropped version of ) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons